Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Making Journalism Fun Again

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Making Journalism Fun Again

Article excerpt

Making journalism fun again

It is time to stand up for a career in journalism.

Somebody has to do it, and the sooner the better. Otherwise the quality of the profession will begin to dip. It is probably on the decline now.

Just 20 years ago, in the Watergate era, the newspaper business was viewed with awe and near-reverence. Those were the days when students wanted to be active and do something important.

As a result, applications to journalism schools were up and competition for jobs was stiff. Moreover, newspaper people spoke of their profession with pride.

Back then, I remember the common responses when new acquaintances found that I wrote for a newspaper. "How interesting that must be" and "You're a lucky guy" were the norm.

I do not hear much resembling that anymore. In fact, I do not hear very much positive about journalism at all.

Last year, when I was at career day at a local high school, not one student expressed a commitment to pursuing journalism. A couple said they might try it, but they were hardly enthusiastic.

Part of it may be that polls show that journalists are not trusted anywhere near the way they used to be and some of it may be the state of the economy, which has affected the newspaper industry as much if not more than other fields.

After all, many newspapers are cutting back on personnel and benefits, and there are not many who can eagerly look forward to a career in a field where layoffs are becoming common and benefits are on the decline.

In most cases, the pay is certainly not a motivation to study journalism. Most professionals will tell you that this is not a career you get into if money is all-important.

I can still remember the reaction of one teacher who listened to my talk at another career day two years ago. After hearing me speak in general terms about the income possibilities, and relating my own experiences, she said,d "I never realized the pay scale was so low, and I thought teaching was bad."

Yes, it is true. If you are interested in a career in journalism, you will not be able to retire before you are 50, and you probably will not be leaving a huge trust fund for your grandchildren.

Yet, and I think we in the profession should start underlining and broadcasting this, there are still a lot of reasons why a career in journalism should be envied.

* Above all else, there are few lines of work that are as interesting as journalism. The news changes every day, and there are almost always issues that start discussions and items that draw comments, both from the local and national fronts.

Many of the larger issues tend to bring a newsroom together in a kind of common bond as editors and reporters strike to do their best to get the whole story out. Inevitably, there are disagreements and, sometimes, even feuds, but there is a shared goal.

In this kind of environment, there are few editors and writers who do not look forward to coming to work. There are often pressures, but the challenge, excitement and uniqueness of the news make it all enticing.

Now think for a moment. How many people in other professions enjoy their work as much? I doubt that the percentage is anywhere nearly is high.

* There are generally few personality conflicts in the newsroom and employees seem to get along better than in many lines of work. …

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