J is for Journalism

is it a sustainable career?

These are just a few of the images that I have captured in 16 years of community journalism.

I studied journalism at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, a few lifetimes ago. If I were to be asked the question, “would you do it over again?” I would probably say no. When I graduated from journalism school (fondly called J-school), newspapers across the United States were closing because of the competition from television, as well as the cost of newsprint. It was virtually impossible to get a job, due to the numbers of experienced journalists, who had suddenly become unemployed. I worked as a freelancer for many years until, just recently, I obtained a Real Job. Because the path that I was on led to so many dead ends and impassible conditions, I would actively discourage anyone who was seeking a career from pursing this one. Honestly, I have taken a huge economic hit as a result of my slow-starting career. If you want to follow this career, you need to be passionate about it. Otherwise, you’re better off finding a career that will pay a living wage (which everyone deserves, by the way).

Once you find a job, however, you’ll find that it is very fulfilling. It’s more a way of life than a job. I have gone to many different events to take pictures and to write stories. These include parades and fall festivals (including Halloween fun), kayak rides, and so much more. I get to go to the farmers market and to community cleanups, to tree plantings, and to fun food events. In addition to depicting events, I share the stories of people in the community. I’ve written about cancer survivors of all ages, elderly war veterans, new Eagle scouts, artists, and gardeners. I have met so many interesting people, all with great stories to tell, and I am grateful to all of them.

The allure of journalism is the opportunity to record history, a journal of your community. The newspapers that we produce can be used as primary material for historians and, so, have great value, both now and in the future. But, to be a sustainable career for the future, it will have to adapt to the ever-changing technology and methods of communication. I hope that it does because journalists are witnesses to living history and are very much needed in the world.

Check out tomorrow’s post for something that begins with the letter “K.” Oh, letter begins with K, but will I post about that? Who knows!!!

10 thoughts on “J is for Journalism”

  1. Interesting reporting, Alice! I can see how fulfilling such a career can be. But I am surprised that it was declining back then, too. Iā€™m not sure I appreciate what it has become. So much compromised and so much fake news.

    1. Hi Lily, In the late 19th century, newspapers were very much a growth industry. Every city had at least two, and the reporters were always competing for the scoop. Many famous writers got their starts in journalism. Mark Twain, for example, worked at the Buffalo Express for a few years, but he was eager to leave Buffalo because of family tragedy. Unfortunately, by the late 1970s, the field was declining as more and more people got their news from television network and were no longer subscribing to newspapers. Many cities were only covered by a single newspaper. When I started journalism school, Buffalo, where I live, had two newspapers. When I graduated, Buffalo had one. Here is a statistic from Wikipedia that shows how journalism is a declining career: “The number of newspaper journalists has decreased from 43,000 in 1978 to 33,000 in 2015.”

    2. Very interesting Alice! So many events and opportunities that you wrote about. We had three newspapers in our area back in the 80’s, now we’re down to one and they don’t even publish it everyday. I think social media help take them away.

      1. Social media is definitely a problem, which is made worse by the plethora of posts that are, at best, inaccurate, and, at worst, deliberate lies. That is when I wish people would just go back to sharing pictures of their food!!!!! šŸ˜€

  2. Very interesting. I could see that journalism is disappearing – print journalism anyway. And honestly, you don’t have to have a degree to be in print anymore. I wrote for my local paper and I don’t have a degree. They just want decent writing.

    And now that people are making their own media, there isn’t the gate keeping that there used to be. You don’t have to have any kind of degree to have a blog, a youtube channel, a streaming channel, or a podcast.

    1. It’s great that more people have access to the media, in the form of blogs, youtube channels, streaming channels, and podcasts. It gives listeners and readers the opportunity to hear a far greater diversity of voices than was true in the past. The more diversity of voices, the more enriched we are, and the more informed we are, in my opinion.

  3. Alice, you have reminded me that in the 1970’s, Wilmington DE had both morning and evening papers. Until about 1982– if memory serves– the Phoenix area had both morning and evening papers. First the evening paper went. Now the morning paper, which serves all of AZ, is smaller by far and interspersed with USA Today sections, which are too general to enjoy. “Inflation is up!” I find USA Today only useful as a breakfast read in hotels. šŸ™‚ I get more news from newsletters by CNN, The Telegraph, and the New York Times.

  4. I once had a dream of pursuing journalism as well, but life took me in many different directions… and now here I am, blogging about books and poetry šŸ™‚
    But the newspaper was such an awaited thing each and everyday when I was growing up and even until a few years ago, the nostalgia kept us getting papers though we had access to the same thing online..
    Loved how you wrapped this post up…

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