Everyone just calm down

When I first decided to go into journalism, I’d often get asked “Why journalism?” followed by “Obviously not for the money!” Now three years later, I face even more skepticism about my industry and career prospects. We talk in classes about changing media forms and declining sales; we frequently read about lay-offs in the field; and some of my former classmates changed their majors out of fear of not finding jobs. Sure, the media is hurting. Famous papers have shut down and important corporations have filed for bankruptcy. But in journalism’s defense, few industries are doing well right now. I think everyone needs to just take a deep breath and stop the panic attack. I think I’ll be okay.

Journalism is not going to disappear. People will always want to know what’s going on and they’ll always need reporters to get the story for them. The medium is the thing that’s changing, but as long as journalists change, too, that’s just fine. The Missourian now prints only five days a week, but it’s working to enhance it’s online presence and teaching all the writers to learn how. Some of my stories go straight to the Web site and never run in print. That’s fine, because more people read them there – and that’s what it means to be a Web-first publication.

And for those like me who would rather hold the publication than see it on my computer? We’ll still be okay. Sure, print versions of papers and magazines are winding down, but they’ll stick around long enough for me to get in my 40 years worth of a career. There are enough people out there who like to hold the glossy magazine in the hands, and wouldn’t like to read it on a glaring screen. I might not tell my grandkids to go into magazine journalism, but I really don’t think I’ll see a day when I can’t browse magazines in the check-out line.

Some also fear that young people today don’t follow the news. I would argue that we just aren’t measuring correctly. Between print, TV, internet, radio, websites and blogs, there are more ways than ever to obtain news, and teenagers are definitely aware of what’s going on. Important news spreads quickly through Web and social networking sites, and there’s no better testament to youth engagement in politics than the election of Barack Obama, with record youth voting and involvement. Every teenager I know is on the internet at least once a day, and – even if they never pick up a paper or turn on the news – they check online to get an update on the world around them. Youth today might not be reading newspapers, but they’re not uninformed either.

And if all that proves to be wrong, I still think I’ll be fine. I’ve always believed that if you love what you do, you work hard, and you don’t give up, you’ll find a way to make a living. And that’s what I plan to do.

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