Indiana University

Indiana University Journalism

Column: Journalism not dead, more necessary than ever

SoJ Web Report | July 15, 2012
By Lauren Lecy, Chesteron High School

When I tell people I want to be a journalist, the feedback I get is generally less than encouraging. With questionable looks on their faces, they ask about the reasoning and inspiration behind my chosen dream career. Responses I get usually go something like these:

“That’s dying. Good luck finding a job after college.”

“You mean, like, for a newspaper? No one reads those.”

“What’s that?”

“Like a blogger?”

The truth is, when most people think of a journalist, their minds flutter around the idea of a Rita Skeeter-type woman, with the thick-rimmed, cat-eye glasses, a notepad, and the tendency to exaggerate the facts. Maybe in the 1940s, when newspapers and traditional reporting were in their heyday, this was more than a stereotype, but today, being a journalist means so much more than that.

Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Dickson talked about our roles as journalists and how they have, are and will continue to change. Although newspapers are very “sick” and have evolved into online and media journalism, our roles as journalists still remain very much the same. We are an advocate for our readers. We are obligated to inform them of the facts, tell our opinions when appropriate, and make sure we are catering toward the right audience and what those people want to read or hear about.

We have to keep in mind the power that we possess. He went so far as to say that the press is largely considered to be the fourth branch of government, because what we say as journalists and write can have an enormous impact on happenings within our federal systems and courts. As we talked about earlier this week, journalists have overthrown leaders, put very prominent individuals in jail, and have changed laws throughout the course of history. However, this kind of power has to be used responsibly and tastefully.

Especially today, with cell phones, social media, and the convenience of online journalism available at people’s fingertips, what we decide to communicate can reach a large amount of people in a very short amount of time. This is both a blessing and a curse. Advantages include a greater impact on society and easier publishing, but we cannot be to keen or quick to post stories and information that can still be perfected. Our responsibility remains the same as it did during print press times; we have to report what is true and thought-provoking.

dickson talks
Courtesy photo
Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Dickson talked to HSJI students during the first week of workshops. He drew parallels between law and journalism, and their responsibilities to the public.
Even though our roles have not changed much over the years, the way our work is presented has changed greatly. Journalists no longer rely on newspapers as their only way of being published, nor do we do interviews and reporting the same. The days of typewriters, newspapers and newsboys standing on corners yelling “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” are long gone.

A lot of people see the death of print journalism as a bad thing, but I don’t think that is necessarily true. I used to wish that I lived in the ‘30s and ‘40s, when newspapers were society’s key source of information and writers were in high demand. I have realized, however, that I am living through a journalistic revolution right now. Job opportunities for journalists are not dwindling; they are simply changing. With need for graphic designers, photographers, videographers and news anchors as well as writers, journalism is doing nothing but growing, and we are needed now more than ever.

With the way things are going now, the future is looking bright for aspiring journalists. So, to everyone who tells me I will not get a job or that I am entering a dying field, you are so very wrong.


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