Journalism: A Faith Lost and Regained

May 18, 2010
 

Notes from the Intern's Desk:
By Elizabeth
Early last January, the first day of the spring semester found me trudging through the snow at 7:45 a.m. under still-glowing street lights. As I tread carefully over ice patches and wished I had worn more layers, I reminded myself not to complain about the undesirable class time. I needed to embrace the dreaded 8:00 a.m. lecture, as it was now sure to be included in many of my future schedules. Having just declared journalism as my minor, I was on my way to my first class in the program. When registering a couple months earlier, I had mentioned to my advisor that all the journalism courses seemed to be held during unfortunate time-slots (translation: very early). She laughed and said, “They do that on purpose, you know, so that you'll get used to it. Journalists have to get up early. The news doesn't sleep, and now, neither do you!”
Little did I know I would soon be informed my early-rising was for nothing. Though freezing and groggy, I was excited. This was the beginning of my journalism career, whatever that might be. Settled in the lecture hall, I admired my professor's classic reporter looks: tweed suit, round glasses, gray mustache, pen tucked behind the ear. He turned to face the class and smiled: “Welcome to ‘Interpreting the Day's News.' I guess if you're sitting here, you enjoy writing enough to study a dying profession.”
I know he was joking, but only partly, and I wasn't amused. College students don't generally take kindly to being told that their field of study is useless and going to leave them unemployed. The discouragement continued throughout the semester: we all dragged ourselves in twice a week at an ungodly hour just to be told we were wasting our time. On top of that, my advisor constantly told me that the journalism and communications programs were too similar for me to minor in one and major in the other. By April, I was over it. The next semester, I concentrated on my other minor, Spanish, and planned to drop journalism as soon as I found time to fill out the forms.
Exactly a year after that first journalism class, I started interning at Metis. Here, I have seen for myself that journalism is not dying at all, but is, rather, in transition. The viability of print journalism is certainly dwindling, but the internet offers plenty of outlets, from forums to blogs to actual online news sources. And in the world of public relations, there are countless tasks that require journalism skills: writing press releases and news alerts, pitching to reporters, editing for clients and coworkers, etc. Seeing its usefulness firsthand began to bring back my enthusiasm for journalism, and the final push I needed came from Metis employees who assured me of how important their journalism degrees are to their success in public relations. My fall class schedule now includes another journalism course.
There is no question that journalism is evolving. Readers have discovered exciting new ways to consume news, and print media is now an endangered species. But there will always be a need to know what's going on in the world, and getting that news out to consumers still requires journalism- just in different forms. As a Metis intern, I'm learning to think outside the proverbial box when it comes to spreading information. Blogs, videos, and social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter are often overlooked as information-sharing tools, but we can't afford to fear experimentation with multimedia. Only those with creativity and willingness to try new media forms will survive the journalism revolution.

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