The Future of Journalism: the Youth?
A group of students in a class at Hong Kong International School feverishly work away on brand new iMacs and hi-tech cameras. Others walk around carrying video cameras, stands and microphones interviewing students and gathering information for their news stories. This broadcast class creates weekly news segments about the school as well as local and global issues. It gives students an exclusive look into broadcast journalism.
In a different room in the afternoon, a bunch of students are sitting around a conference table planning the next issue of the school paper, Junto. Here, they assign amateur reporters their stories to follow-up on and write about whilst also creating new layout for the newspaper.
All of these students, whether in broadcast journalism or print, try to imitate the work of professionals. With the work they are doing at the school, they hope to create a future for themselves in journalism.
However, given the current market trends, will there be a future in journalism itself?
The rise of the internet has long been seen as a tentative enemy of journalism. Many newspapers around the world have ceased to print, or even have chosen to close down. Even major players such as The New York Times have not been left unscathed. Current job market trends are unfavourable to journalists, with layoffs and cuts being the words on the mouths of those in the industry today. The severity of this moment for journalism has garnered so much attention that it has become a novelty in itself. For example, the website NewspaperDeathWatch has been documenting the slow demise of US metropolitan newspapers since 2007.
Although the discussion about the future of journalism has long focused on print, the future of broadcast news is also in doubt. The internet is revolutionising television as we know it today. People are moving online en masse to watch TV shows and news. News updates in real time are far more convenient than waiting all day for 6 o’clock news on TV. However, despite the convenience of real time updates, the quality of journalism can easily be lost in the clamour of blogs, tweets, and videos.
The plethora of information found online is just a component of what the future of journalism must fight against to survive. As people are bombarded with information, how do news outlets (broadcast or print) differentiate themselves and rise above the nonsense? Other components of the issue that journalism is facing are to do with freedom of speech. Journalism could not survive without it: it wouldn’t be able to achieve its goal of informing people. Censorship is a dangerous act where news blackouts have seen the silence of many atrocities, including those committed in Iraq, Darfur, and Pakistan. As news and print outlets try to carve a future for themselves online, how they will maintain freedom of speech to ensure quality will become a highly contested issue that has not yet seen enough coverage or debate.
Many professionals in the industry continue to speculate what will become of journalism, both broadcast and print. Perhaps some true insight into what journalism was, is and has the potential to be can be found in the minds of today’s students who will become the future of journalism.
Photo by European Parliament via Flickr under Creative Commons license.