Monday, May 11, 2009

The Fall of Traditional Journalism - Get Over It

Every day some newspaper columnist or blogger writes about the great tragedy in traditional journalism falling by the wayside. J schools are at wits end. The administrators don’t know what to do. They don’t know how to impart traditional journalism values on the social media age.

I have a suggest. Get over it and figure out how to tweak the current model.

Whether we like to admit it or not. Journalism has changed in the last 10 years. But unfortunately most J schools have not. I graduated from college only a few years ago and my journalism degree is the perfect example of an ‘epic fail.’

Ok, well maybe not epic. I learned a lot in the four years I spent at Marquette. The teachers were dedicated to the students. I landed internships and jobs as a result of the connections the school had. I figured out how to write quality content in a short time frame. And honestly, my writing improved exponentially in those four years.

Then I hit the work force and I realized there were a number of things missing in my education. I never learned how to write an article for the web - fail! No one told me to start a blog or website to showcase my writing - fail! And social media? It was a thing that ‘the kids’ did to procrastinate, not a writing tool.

We learned just how small the journalism community is, with numerous stories from our professors about that one person who plagiarized and ruined a career in the field forever. (Saw it first hand too.) But no one told us that as a writer we needed to establish our presence.

So instead of bemoaning how everything is so different now and the loss of traditional journalism, schools need to tweak the system. Teach the current students the importance of ethical, fair and balanced reporting. Teach them the importance of meeting deadlines. Teach them how to craft short witty sentences, catchy headlines and where to place quotes. And teach them about web writing, blogging, tweeting, rss feeds, etc...

If these traditional values are going to last through this high tech era we need to teach writers how to incorporate the new with the old. We still need the old-school values; but they can fit with the new journalism model.

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