When I tell people I want to be a journalist, I get the same response every time. They look at me like I am about to jump off the edge of a cliff. People are quick to judge my decision and even quicker to condemn it. I can’t say I blame them. For the past few years, the once flourishing industry has seem to run dry. The job market isn’t exactly booming and prospects can often seem grim.
For journalism to survive as a business in the twenty-first century, we need to rethink the way we market news. The stories are the same, but the way we tell them isn’t. Readers who traditionally picked up the morning paper have made a mass exodus to the online world. Let’s just say the local paperboy may need to find a new source of income. At the turn of the millennium, the newspaper industry entered blindly into the online experiment and are still trying to navigate their way through it.
After two years of financial struggle, it seems the journalism industry is slowly making their way out of the dark. It was very refreshing to read the results of the State of the News Media 2011 report. Finally, there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel for news corporations and the eager students who want to join the industry.
There are a few reasons to be optimistic:
There are jobs for journalists, you just have to be creative with where you look. Companies like Yahoo, AOL and Bloomberg are hiring more journalists than ever before. These organizations are looking for very specific skill sets to help expand their online content, whether it be in the form of blog posts, tweets or online video. Journalism graduates entering the workforce are going to be equipped with these skills and will hopefully be more employable.
Consumers are warming up to the idea of paying for online content. It will likely be a slow transition, but I am convinced that readers will eventually realize the value in paying for their news. A survey conducted said that nearly one quarter of Americans would pay for online news if their local newspaper were to no longer exist. This shows that readers still have a loyalty to local news coverage and see the impact it has on their community.
I was most surprised by the variation of success and failure among different journalistic mediums. Radio journalism remains very strong, with 93 per cent of Americans tuning in to programs at least once a week and NPR alone is reeling in nearly 30 million listeners per week. This success seems to reflect the fact that journalism is still valued in the United States, which is why the industry will hopefully come out of this period of hardship stronger than ever before.