The Changing Face of Journalism

It’s no secret that reading the news isn’t a particularly uplifting experience. No longer a leisurely activity simply enjoyed with your morning coffee and pastry, one glance at most headlines is enough to shoot anyone’s mood from fancy-free to foul in a matter of seconds.

And if you just happen to be a journalist? Well, there’s even more headlines to grumble about these days. Need proof? Just check out Gawker (www.gawker.com) where the latest journalistic casualties are reported with the gusto of sports highlights on ESPN.

Between all the newspapers and magazines going bankrupt (even my hometown paper—The Minneapolis Star Tribune—has recently joined the fray) and the massive reduction of writing/editing positions across the board, whether it’s Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly or the now-defunct CCM Magazine, where I spent 5 1/2 years working before eventually going freelance in 2005, it’s all a little disheartening to say the least.

Of course, this is all a reality of business and an ever-changing marketplace, right? Or at least that’s what I’m always told. After all, with the immediacy the Internet provides, who really needs a newspaper or magazine? Yet while this may true in the truest sense of the word “need,” it still makes me a little sad for the future generation of journalists.

When I was suffering through high school, I constantly daydreamed about working in the “glamorous” world of news. I couldn’t wait to experience the hectic newsroom environment, barely able to breathe as I filed my story only seconds before the deadline. I also couldn’t wait to meet my editor, who I just knew would be all scary and gruff and would throw things—just like the good ones did in movies. I thought being a reporter would be the dream job—my ticket to seeing and experiencing all that life out of small-town Wisconsin has to offer.

And then when I actually worked at a daily newspaper for four months, I quickly realized that all those daydreams were much, much better in my head…not that I didn’t learn a lot, of course.

But when I eventually decided that magazines were the way to go professionally speaking, (thanks to some insanely wise counsel), well, I was actually on to something there.

Between those quasi-official planning meetings (ha ha) where we’d decide what to feature in the magazine each month, conducting the interviews, writing the stories, proofing the copy so many times until you couldn’t spot a typo if it bit you in the nose, thinking up clever cover lines and actually seeing the darn thing in print once we’d successfully finished the process…well, that was the life!

In today’s Internet age, however, there aren’t too many college grads who will experience those joys unless something majorly shifts. I mean, it’s great to have access to news, features, message boards and blogs so quickly online, but the purist in me still prefers flipping through the glossy pages of an actual magazine. In fact, I have one on my desk right now that I can’t wait to devour…and that’s not something I ever feel when logging on People.com.

All that moaning, groaning and boo-hooing for the good ol’ days aside, I’m very thankful that while much of my writing is for the virtual world these days, there’s still a few actual publications in the mix as well. And for the journalists in training who’ll never truly experience what “hell night” is like before your monthly mag goes to press, all I can say is that you’re majorly missing out. But I’ll be more than happy to tell you a few stories…just say the word. :)

 

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