The Golden Age of Journalism

Interviewing the catStarting college as a journalism major in the fall of 2008 was anything but encouraging. In my first day of the class “Discovering Journalism,” we were basically told that there’s no hope for jobs once we graduated and that journalism is dying.

A lot of my peers switched majors. Maybe because of their lack of faith in the field, or perhaps they really did want to explore the world of musical theatre. For whatever reason, I stayed and now journalists are in the midst of a huge change in the industry. And I believe this change is for the better.

The idea of journalism being a “dying” industry comes from the fear of the Internet. We live in a world where social media is becoming a primary news source, blogs are out there in the millions, and people are requesting more information than ever before. But why are those things even remotely scary to the industry? The world has not only woken up to what’s going on around them, but also wants to get involved.

So instead of running terrified of news being everywhere we turn, we are embracing it as the “golden age” of journalism. And we can thank Gen Y for getting us to this point.

Gen Y is involved in not just their own social network, but in the world around them. While following @yourbestfriend on Twitter you’re also checking up on @BarackObama. And people everywhere are taking the time to report what’s going on around them.

During Boston’s “aquapocalypse,” I was following what Governor Patrick and Mayor Menino had to say about whether the water was safe to drink in Boston or not. But I first heard about the water problem in the city from my friends on Twitter who had no real “authority,” but  were experiencing what was going on first-hand.

Along with social media platforms, smart phones have been a great asset to this movement. Not only can anyone report what is going on but they can do it from anywhere.

And with all of these different angles and views of current events, we are finally getting news that is fair and balanced.

In this post from blogger David Horowitz, he discusses how this move for journalism is also providing more perspectives to the news and no longer separating it into biased liberal or biased conservative.

“The main danger of the rise of the new media, in my opinion, is partisanship. Granted, the old media was hardly objective, but the new media seems to put all news in the context of politics and who it vindicates or indicts. At the same time, though, people have access to a huge range of websites with various point-of-views. Ultimately, I think it’s healthier for the American people to read several websites of different partisan slants than to invest their trust in one or two’s so-called ‘objectivity.’”

And that is also where journalists question this golden age. If everyone can be a journalist, than why study to be one or try to make a living doing it?

If there’s anything I’ve learned in my two years at college, it is that the art of being able to tell a story will always be the core of journalism. Whether or not one can tell a story in a way that makes people care, shows that you understand the issues, and is just generally well-written, is what will make the difference between a journalist and a hobbyist. So yes, Gen Y and the rest of the world are telling their stories but that doesn’t make being a journalist worthless.

In fact, it makes being a journalist worth more. Not only are we out there telling stories, we are doing it effectively and will someday (hopefully) have the credibility of some of the greatest voices of the craft.

Ours is an opinionated generation and with new technology we can broadcast our views to the world. And soon, we will be running the top news sources in the country and you can be sure citizen journalists will play an important role.

Journalism is not dying. In fact, it has come to life, and Gen Y is here to make sure it stays that way.  Welcome to the Golden Age of Journalism.

Image courtesy of Maccio Capatonda

Wynn Harrison Hi I'm Wynn! I'm a multimedia journalist and will be graduating from Emerson College with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Political Science in May 2012. I've worked with TV, Radio, and now I'm online! I love Mexican food, twitter (@WynnHarrison), current events, and watching "How I Met Your Mother". Feel free to contact me!

View all posts by Wynn Harrison

3 Responses to “The Golden Age of Journalism”

  1. Jennifer Orr

    This is awesome, Wynn. Your post managed to exorcise my demon fear of being jobless. There’s hope for us, after all! I really look forward to working with you!

  2. Angela Stefano

    I’m a little late on this one, but this was a great post! The one thing that worries me about all these changes is that citizen journalism is, in some ways, replacing actual jobs. News outlets seem to have realized that they can use everyday people to do the things paid staff used to, but for free. True, everyday people won’t always do the same caliber of job that trained journalists will, but it doesn’t always seem to matter. And that is worrisome because, while we still need those trained journalists who really do know how to tell a story artfully, the jobs that used to be (semi)plentiful are becoming few and far between


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