Journalism, like most things in the modern world, took a very drastic turn with the rise of the internet. While it is considered a part of everyday life, the internet changed virtually everything about our lives, in a short amount of time. No other major invention has been utilized and prioritized like the digital space that holds everything from our country’s secrets to photos of what we ate for dinner last night.
Journalism is defined as the activity or profession of writing for newspapers, magazines, or news websites or preparing news to be broadcast. There was a point in time in which case not everyone could do that. A time when Journalism was consistent with the theme of importance. The news meant something. So, how did we get to a place where people aren’t even aware of what’s happening in the world around them? Even with all of advancements that have taken place in the last twenty years?
To be frank, Journalism has not advanced as gracefully as other forms of communication. The news we need is marred by opinions, trends, and 30-second time restraints. Even stranger, young Journalists are being taught the same process that seemingly put Journalism on its deathbed.
While students take on years of training to become Journalists, and even more time finding a dependable position and salary, there are tabloids and media outlets sailing by with viral content and sensationalized headlines. While Mayborn students are forced to have an internship before they graduate, anyone random person on the street can have a blog and an audience ten-thousand people strong. While those same students are taught how to cultivate news and in a traditional sense, they are not being trained for how Journalism has already evolved. It will literally cost them, in more ways than one.
This is not a knock to any journalism program, or to any outlet that creates viral content. Those of us who decide to pursue a career in journalism need training, and social media has opened the door for many outlets to get attention in ways we’ve never seen before. However, Journalism has yet to truly grasp the new concepts and capabilities of the modern world we are in. Even worse, it’s not keeping pace with the rapidly evolving world.
There has yet to be a true meeting of the minds, when it comes to Journalism. You have an older generation that watched their world change, and a newer generation that is completely hooked into the digital world effortlessly. The analyzation of trending topics has been reduced to internship level work. Young adults are being rewarded for their prior knowledge and use of social media, instead of ingenuity to improve how Journalism as a whole is presented to people. If people aren’t even interested, are we even doing our jobs?
Social media platforms like twitter and snapchat are carving out new ways for news to be shared quickly. These small, targeted blocks of information don’t focus on all 5 W’s journalists are taught to present. They focus on the “why,” and how people perceive the why. If we have learners anything in the past year, it’s that public opinion counts. Sometimes, more than factual evidence.
In a world that anyone is able to present information as news, and be taken seriously, it is imperative that Journalism redefine the line between decisive and divisive. Having traditional news tweeted through a link isn’t enough. Playing into identity politics will not, and has not worked. It is going to take a hard reset and a realization of what people already know, need to see, and presentation of all of those things. It wouldn’t hurt to make sure that presentation was more than a clickbait headline.