For a long time, print journalism has been viewed by many as one of society’s dying institutions. As a result, explaining to people that I am working towards a Journalism degree garners some interesting feedback.
Some people think it is a good idea and are supportive but many, including my high school English teacher, seem to think otherwise.
“There is no money in journalism” is the most popular response I receive. The rationale for this comment always seems to hover around the slow but inevitable death of the newspaper.
There is a plethora of different ways to obtain news and information in the 21st century available to the general public, which raises an interesting but unsurprising question: do we still need the journalist?
Marshall McLuhan once wrote, “The medium is the message,” and through its evolution, the medium has become a loosely defined venue for the same information that was originally printed letter by letter.
Although the print industry faces possible extinction, the message it delivers remains in high demand.
Every minute, each occurrence in society contains something worth documenting. There may be no papers in the future, but there will still be a need for those willing to provide unique perspectives on them and document the human experience. Discussions on current events like politics and pop culture are often propelled by what’s been in the central topics in news media. So even if the papers are going extinct, the journalist is still alive and well.
On January 23 2010, the Toronto Star’s business section featured an article by Tyler Hamilton called “Can the web save the papers?”
Hamilton writes, “Recognizing the spirit of journalism is more than just words and pictures on paper.” Hamilton means the message is more important than how it is packaged. Therefore, no matter how the news is delivered, whether it is on actual paper or online, there will always be an audience.
The purported death of the paper will consequently have little impact on journalists. Hamilton’s article reveals one thing about news: through an economic lens, studying journalism equals studying a constantly changing industry within an even more rapidly changing social framework.
Saying “there is no money in journalism” is like saying there is no money in news, when news is the cornerstone to modern society.
In the equation of great uncertainty for the future of the medium, the journalist becomes the independent variable. He or she will not be swayed by any change to the medium of news communication.
However, by virtue of the message, the journalist becomes a catalyst for the news industry’s evolution. The journalist will guide the news through this period of transition and on into the future.