Every year young, aspiring journalism graduates hoping to enter the exciting field of traditional news reporting face an ever-shrinking and highly-competitive job market. But, are times changing? Is there a new-found hope for the young journalists and the semi-seasoned reporters?
If we can believe what we're reading, it would seem that those who are knowledgeable and comfortable with technology and have experience producing new media content have a brighter future. Budding journalists, it would appear, have new options these days, and there has never been a more obvious first step for young reporters (or for frustrated veterans). Editors, writers, reporters and broadcasters are all heading to online jobs because of career opportunities and the excitement of seeing a new kind of journalism unfold.
"It's a job, but is it journalism?" asks Christina Ianzito in her 1996 Columbia Journalism Review article. Until just recently, most jobs in new media journalism involved coding Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and in repurposing the writing of other journalists for online distribution and access. But, if we look, we will notice examples popping up of new media journalists creating original content for online publications and new media products on CD-ROM. A good example used by John Pavlik in his report on new media is Publius, an on-line publication devoted to covering the 1996 presidential campaign.
The biggest advantage is with those writers who have a specialized expertise. New media journalism jobs for specialized publications such as in the areas of computing, medicine and science, and financial news offer the most opportunities.
A Little History:
The field of journalism as well as journalists themselves are certainly used to experiencing revolutionary times forced upon them by technological advances.
PHOTOJOURNALISM: The publication and the mass production of still pictures from 1839 to 1880 accustomed Americans to a new kind of journalism. The idea that photographs could be printed with words, even crudely printed, led to the fundamental changes in the way information was gathered and disseminated to the public.
Wood engraving of Robert E. Lee from a photograph by Geroge Minnis and Daniel Cowel published in the Southern Illustrated News, October 17, 1863. national Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.
BROADCAST JOURNALISM: The first radio reporters appeared on the news gathering scene in the 1920s. The networks established their news organizations in the 1930s, and in the 1940s covered global war. It wasn't long before television came onto the scene and overtook radio, creating yet more major changes in news gathering and disseminating. Videotape, color TV and the first communications satellite were then followed by cable television. By the 1970s more news (including the Vietnam War) was reported live, forever changing the way we viewed our world and its events. The emergence of cable and the video market of the 1980s casued a shrinking audience for the networks which quickly began to lose their dominance.
Vice President Richard Nixon and Senator John F. Kennedy participate in the nation's first nationally televised debate between presidential candidates. A new day had dawned and it appears to have only been the beginning. What does the future hold for traditional news organizations? Will the print newspaper survive yet another communications revolution?