Opinion: What have I gotten myself into?
“Journalism is dying.”
Sadly, there is some truth to this.
Traditional print journalism has seen decline over the past few decades. According to a study done by the Columbia Journalism Review, “83 percent of newsrooms had reduced the number of journalists on their staff in the last 10 years, and 78 percent cut the space for journalism in print,” which, as you may have guessed, is a lot.
When I decided on my journalism major I had the quintessential high school experience. I had taken exactly one class in regards to the subject and served a term as the editorial editor of my school newspaper for half a year. It wasn’t the teachers or the brief stint of involvement that got me hooked; it was the countless hours I spent reading investigative stories on news websites or diving into stories of experience in National Geographic and travel magazines.
When I entered into this field, my idea of a journalist was that of a classic sleuth with a press badge. A messenger for the masses. I envisioned writing stories to be published in newspapers like the New York Times and going on to win awards. I received my first reality check after the 2016 election.
Left and right, news stories began to crop up on Facebook and Twitter feeds, advertising false information about the election. Sometimes, these stories were indistinguishable from credible sources. Thus, the idea of “fake news” came into play once again.
Fake news has been around since the beginning of modern journalism—from the yellow journalism period of the late 19th century to the misconceptions surrounding “The War of the Worlds” radio broadcast in 1938. The fake news following the 2016 election wasn’t anything new, persay; it was, however, a relatively new development for the industry of online media.
The Boston Herald published an article earlier this year on the effects of fake news, saying that “while 55 percent of Democrats say the news media ‘deal fairly with all sides,’ less than 10 percent of Republicans feel the same, according to the Poynter Institute’s latest Media Trust Survey.”
This is a direct result of President Trump using the term “fake news” to describe anything he views as unfavorable; in his eyes, media outlets that go against him (read: are left-wing) constitute fake news, in turn leading his followers to believe that platforms such as CNN and the New York Times are sources where fake news is published.
As a journalist, this is a difficult concept to wrap my head around. These media sources have been dependable and respected for decades, and yet here they are being torn down by a president who didn’t win the popular vote. Those reporters who I had looked up to as government watch-dogs and harbingers of news for the American people were now being condemned for doing their job; and if they didn’t do it, then who would? (This is a trick question--that’s exactly what Trump wants: no media opposition.)
It’s incredibly disheartening to see that an industry that relies so heavily on the trust of its audience should be picked apart as a result of opinions. Seeing many major news sources introduce fact-checking pages to their websites feels like a blow to me, as a reporter. It’s as if the work these professional journalists are doing is being undermined. The amount of research and dedication that go into the stories written for the American public deserves more credit than is offered in the political climate of today.
Journalism is an ever changing and evolving industry. In order to function, it must keep with the flow of its consumers. Print journalism is old-fashioned in the eyes of the modern audience--news is now being sourced from social media such as Twitter and Facebook rather than actual news organizations.
All this and there’s still the pressing issue of of the decline of traditional journalism, and along with it my dreams of making it big in the world of the press. My best chances now probably lay somewhere along the lines of clickbait-press like Buzzfeed or Yahoo.
Now all that’s left is to wonder: what have I gotten myself into?