Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Journalists do it because they love it

I read an article recently in The New York Times by Op-Ed writer Hector Tobar.  (Tobar is also a journalism professor at the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication) His piece "Who'd Be a Journalist?" is a must read for all aspiring journalists, reporters, and story tellers. I like stories and from what I can tell the students who pursue journalism and media in our school like telling stories.  It really doesn't matter what the topic - it could be about teachers eating raunchy tasting food, stories about young people struggling with their identity, a report about the recent accomplishment of an athletic team - stories are just great to tell.  I enjoy hearing students talk about what they learned or how cool it was to meet the people they were reporting on or writing about.  That's the gist of Tobar's piece.
"To enter journalism these days you have to be a true believer. If you can find an entry-level job — and newspaper staffs declined by 10 percent last year — you will more than likely take a vow of poverty worthy of a monk. Even in television, a news reporter can make as little as $18,000 a year.
The truth is that the best journalists connect with readers, viewers and listeners by being open-minded and compassionate. That’s one reason so many people remain in the profession, despite the poor pay and long hours."
I think people are always going to want information.  Maybe newspapers at the end of our driveways will die off some day but what we're learning is that community journalism is alive and well.  In communities there are tons of stories to tell but no one is telling them.  Major metropolitan newspapers are catering to "old reliable" stories about business, politics, and crime (well I guess I should throw controversial topics in there as well.) The Cincinnati Enquirer is packed with information from their parent company Gannett so most of the Enquirer is a mini version of packages from USA Today.  But in the meantime the business, governmental, educational, athletic and community features are in search of a news home.

I tell the young reporters I teach at the University of Oregon to ignore the gloom that surrounds the profession and its future. People will always have an appetite for true stories well told. And they will never stop wanting essential information, delivered quickly and accurately. 

I highly recommend every student on The Chronicle staff and any student in our media program who has an interest in being the multi-media reporters and story tellers of the future - READ THIS STORY "WHO'D BE A JOURNALIST?" by HECTOR TOBAR.  

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