Some days I feel like a dinosaur; we all know how their story ended. Not just due to age, but my chosen profession just keeps getting gloomier as it seems headed toward extinction.
Most people probably know journalism is anything but a high-growth occupation. Declining revenue and what seems like more and more bottom-line-focused hedge fund owners do not paint a rosy picture for those of us in the news media.
Thousands of reporters, photographers, copy editors and other positions have been eliminated over the last decade. News outlets have closed down, leaving what some call a “news desert” in the communities they formerly served and kept informed.
A few bright spots surface here and there, such as this story about a small North Carolina newspaper managing to replace lost advertising money with circulation. Others have tried the same approach but failed, so there may be some unique circumstances with that publication. Very good for them, but maybe not something easily replicated. Still, it’s heartening.
Speaking of which, my spirits were lifted a few months ago by an email from a high school senior along Colorado’s Front Range, asking if she could job shadow me as I went about my daily journalism duties and tasks. She wrote she was considering journalism as a career path and a member of her family suggested I was someone who might be willing to consider such an arrangement.
It was flattering to have her reach out, but it made me feel even better to learn a teenager was interested in a similar career path I first took in my high school years.
I responded to let her know I am a freelance journalist without the daily tasks of meeting deadlines, attending meetings and all the other things a full-time reporter working for a newspaper, radio or TV station undertakes regularly. I would think those things are what she hoped to observe and learn about.
Still, just the fact a young woman said she was interested in journalism gave me a smile and put a little spring in my step. I have a photo of a button with a saying, “Journalists are good news.” I wholeheartedly agree and am glad some young people believe the same thing.
Another heartening experience came when I undertook an assignment to let readers of a small monthly newspaper know about their local political candidates about a month before the recent elections. It turned out there were A LOT of candidates in the communities this paper covers. So my stories ended up much longer than usual, which I hope provided useful information for informed voters. And, of course, a more hefty check for yours truly.
But just the fact there’s at least this publication that sees the value in providing this kind of more traditional journalism is uplifting.
It’s tough to stay upbeat in today’s world with divisions seemingly everywhere and a lack of common courtesy for different ideas. Yet there may remain a spark of civility and a belief in telling important stories that might survive extinction. We should all hope and pray this is true.