The Boneyard: Are Journalists Really an Endangered Species?

By Daniel Ford

Earlier this week, Poynter reported that newspaper reporters landed on the annual list of endangered jobs for the second year in a row. Others on the list included meter readers, farmers, and mail careers (who are expected to lose 28 percent of their workforce by 2022).

This is not a good list to be on, obviously. It’s also not great that journalists found themselves at the very bottom of a list of the 200 worst jobs in the United States. My BS in Journalism wept.

So is being a journalist really that bad? Has the Internet and television killed the ink-stained newspaper star? I reached out to some of my favorite journos on Twitter to discuss the issues facing the industry and what the future might look like.

Daniel Ford: How’s everybody feeling about being on the endangered species list?

Matt DiVenere: The worst part? Most journalists left make the public hope it's a quick death.

Daniel: Does Anderson Cooper's performance during the Democratic debate on Tuesday (and Meghan Kelly’s during the first Republican debate) offer a glimmer of hope?

Lindsey Wojcik: You're talking two different industries now. Broadcast is a different ballgame. Print will not fully become extinct but entering the market with that emphasis will.

Matt: Absolutely. Local, small-market newspapers will outlast national papers. You can get national news anywhere. Local news, not so much.

Melissa Rose Bernardo (managing editor of JCK magazine): Let's hope so! (Kind of like small business versus big box retail.)

Daniel: I don't necessarily think they are all that different now. Journalist's number one job is asking tough, relevant questions to find truth.

Lindsey: I think there's more of a celebrity cache in broadcast. At least with networks.

Daniel: But wasn't there the same cache with print journalists in 1960s and 1970s?

Lindsey: Celebrity culture was nothing like it is today.

Daniel: I wouldn't tell that to William Randolph Hearst!

Matt: Television and print are two completely different worlds, especially today.

Daniel: Would we lose quality journalism if we start relying more on local newspapers? Local newspapers don’t have the budget or staff to tackle larger issues. Wouldn’t we miss out on some of the necessary investigative journalism performed by national papers? We’re already seeing it with major news organizations cutting back. Who ends up being the watchdog?

Matt: True, but local journalists have a bit more of a stake in local issues with more access.

Daniel: Are journos really going to school to write for their local paper?

Matt: A good journalist shouldn't be impacted by audience or market size.

Daniel: Who are these local writers aspiring to be? What's the standard?

Matt: It's more important for local writers to stand out than to aspire to be someone.

Daniel: But isn't the problem that standing out today means being more of an entertainer?

Matt: From a TV perspective, yes. But writers who go for the recognition get labeled as such. Standing out doesn't have to be for being an entertainer. Passion will always trump. Every journalist is different. Mimicking should be looked at as a no-no.

Daniel: So how do we cultivate good journalists? How do we avoid extinction?

Lindsey: There are too many problems to solve in a single Twitter thread.

To be continued…

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