As many of you know, I always considered myself an old-school newspaperman. I started working in newspapers when I was in high school and my love affair with writing, journalism and the like continued well beyond there.
In fact, at an interview I had not too long ago, I was asked about why I earned a master’s degree in journalism as not many people would consider that degree. As I told them – it was something I believed in and wanted to get that degree.
Journalism as a whole will never truly change. The idea is to get a story, get it right, and be impartial in delivering the story. One always needs to make sure they have the sources and the facts right when delivering that story, be it hard breaking news, or a fun feature.
What does change is how the news is delivered. We live in a society that demands news 24/7 and things to be out there quick. Whether that is through blogs, Facebook, Twitter or some other online means, the basic idea is get the news out fast and furious.
By doing that, of course, some of your more traditional news sources – such as newspapers – are depleting.
Remember, I started with newspapers when I was in high school. I freelanced for major dailies and won awards over time. I loved what I did, despite crappy pay (which included mandatory furloughs over my last couple of years in the business), because I believed in the cause. In the end, I was a victim of downsizing (read about it here) and I faded from the world of newspapers (outside of a couple of freelance gigs).
Since then, I’ve landed well, work in the PR world, get paid a heap better – with better benefits – and, yet, I still miss the world of newspapers. I don’t miss the corporate politics, or the bad morale in newsrooms – but I miss the aspects of the newspaper industry that I believed in.
I’ve watched from afar as my former shop has had multiple rounds of layoffs since I was part of the first wave in 2011. I’ve seen friends move on and the whole paper change. Since the layoff I’ve been in there once – to meet up with a former colleague for dinner – and I was shocked at how it felt in that newsroom, which was once a place that was a joy to work in.
Time’s change, that’s for sure.
I bring all of this up, though, because recently, comedian John Oliver had a nearly 20-minute segment on journalism and its downfall on his HBO show. The piece was spot-on and did it, obviously, in a funny way. But if you read past the jokes and digs, what he says is true.
Without journalism, a lot of bad things can happen.
If you have 20 minutes, take a moment to watch this. It’s really worth it.
The funny part is after this aired, the president/CEO of the Newspaper Association of America took offense to this segment and called Oliver out in a piece on his organization’s website.
The reality is this – newspapers aren’t what they used to be. The digital world is making sure of that. It’s a shame, too, because newspapers are an important part of daily life and the local aspect does a lot more than people realize.
John Oliver was accurate in his segment. How he delivered it was funny, at times, yes. But at the same time, it also showed the reality that journalism – and the newspaper industry – face moving forward.
Take a moment to watch Oliver’s segment. It’s worth your while.
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