Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Journalism Will Always Be a Noble Calling

There are a few veteran journalists and former journalists who no doubt relish the prospect of giving one word of advice to teenagers who are thinking about working in media.

That one word? "Don't!"

True, it's not an easy place to be with information consumers getting their news from various sources - credible and otherwise - and only when they want to read or hear it. And the flight of advertising revenue away from newspapers has changed the way they do business while prematurely ending a few journalism careers.

It has been several years since I worked in a pure journalism setting, although I have utilized the same skills in different arenas. Many former colleagues have undergone similar transformations and now work in such fields as marketing communications and public relations (others freelance for a living). But even if you take an experienced journalist out of journalism, you'll have a hard time taking journalism out of the journalist.

Why? It starts with the curiosity about how things work, how things happen, and how everything comes together in one cohesive story. You know what's important to the reader and how to communicate it. You like putting threads of stories together and write or broadcast it in a way that makes sense to both you and your audience. You crave for those moments when the information you write has made an impact on someone's life.

That's what has driven the journalists of yesterday, and it's what drives those who want to enter the profession today.

Earlier this month, Robert Krulwich, an award-winning broadcast journalist, acknowledged the difficulties and challenges that new journalists graduating from college face today. In his commencement speech to journalism school graduates at UCal-Berkeley, Krulwich told them to keep pushing and make their own breaks. "People who fall in love with journalism, who stay at it, who stay stubborn, very often win. I don't know why, but I've seen it happen over and over."

I have too. I have seen former colleagues who used to wonder why they majored in journalism go on to rewarding careers. And I have seen journalists pursue something else after enjoying success in the field. It happens anywhere and everywhere.

The world will always need people to pursue the story: get the facts, assemble then into a coherent whole, and present them in a compelling way that says "Here's why this is important."

It's a noble and sometimes stressful calling. But it will always be necessary no matter the age in which we live.

So,  you want to be a journalist? "Do!"

What's your view on the current state of journalism? Please share them in a comment below.

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