Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

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With the Sports Illustrated layoffs shaking up the sports journalism world in January, the thought that journalism might not be such a sustainable career path for students in this new age isn’t something to turn a blind eye to.

A familiar question you usually get growing up regarding academics is, “Are you a math or writing type of kid?” For me, I’ve always been a huge fan of writing and just literature in general. When I got into my older teens, I started to really concentrate on the idea of being some type of journalist as my career path. As my college years go by, the journalism landscape has changed a lot. Back in 2019, Vox’s Rani Molla wrote about this very topic. She writes, “Data suggests that many journalism and PR jobs didn’t go away so much as change their names. People who once worked in journalism or PR have commonly transitioned into job titles like ‘content writer’ and ‘social media manager,’ according to LinkedIn senior data scientist Alan Fritzler.” She goes on to write, “But a lot of people doing ‘journalism’ or calling themselves ‘journalists’ these days are no longer working in traditional journalism jobs for traditional digital or print newsrooms. The BLS [Bureau of Labor Statistics] data, for example, might not include digital producers or podcasters because there aren’t occupation codes for those jobs. That doesn’t mean they aren’t journalists.” 

The idea of being a journalist isn’t what we’re used to. As Molla alluded to, journalism is now forming itself into categories that may become unappealing for you and me. Now it’s true: in order for most things to be sustainable, they have to change with the times. But at what cost will the journalism industry pay because of this change? Lilah Burke of Higher Ed Dive discusses the payoff a journalism degree will bring but also writes, “For college and university administrators and faculty, the report could give insight into the right approach for offering journalism and communication programs — or other high-profile programs in shrinking fields. Overall, the field of journalism study is small, comprising only 1% of bachelor’s and master’s degrees awarded. The number of bachelor’s degrees awarded has declined by 25% since 2002.” If fewer students are graduating with specific journalism majors, what does that say about the industry as a whole and people’s insecurity about majoring in journalism? 

For me, I’m a media and culture major with dreams of being a creative director, but I’m also a journalist right behind that. In order to get a glimpse at what’s happening with the journalism industry, you need real feedback from actual journalists. A 2015 survey was conducted by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism in cooperation with the Society of Professional Journalists. The study used 530 journalists across the Western world to ask questions about how they see the future of journalistic work, what it will be like, what it will demand, what the rewards will be and what the implications will be. Robert G. Picard, the author of the report, writes, ‘‘First, journalists are clearly not in denial about the direct impact fundamental changes in the media will have for journalism as a form of work. Second, while our respondents recognize that these changes are likely to make journalism more stressful, individualistic and less stable, they are not particularly pessimistic about the future of journalism as a professional practice.’’

Even journalists not too long ago felt the changes in the industry. It’s important that journalism stays relevant while also maintaining the fundamentals that people are so used to associating journalism with. Picard said something along those lines as well. He writes, “The challenge for news media, individual journalists, and journalistic professional associations, then, is to make sure that the often radical changes involved in journalism moving from 20th-century organizations to 21st-century ones are accompanied by the development of strong forms of 21st-century journalistic professionalism and the means to support them.”


Isaiah Ireland is a third-year Media and Culture major with a minor in Digital Marketing. II978280@wcupa.edu

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