While all of that is true, that doesn’t mean the future for journalists is as dark as the midnight sky. Rather, there are many more career opportunities today that there was a decade ago.
In my educational experience, young people still think of journalists as people who are employed at legacy companies --- a newspaper, or television or radio station. They don’t think of all of the other opportunities, or different types of journalism, that are available.
They don’t think of opportunities at AOL, Yahoo, Google or ESPN. They don’t think of all of the potential opportunities at digital publications such as Grantland, Vox, the Verge, Mashable, and all of the others that need outstanding journalists. (Notice I said journalists --- not bloggers, writers and essayists. They all may have excellent writing skills, but the writing styles are different. More on that another time.)
I’ve taken the position that, unfortunately, the very best in the profession should strongly consider these new digital avenues. Nothing against the legacy publishers; I still believe they’re an excellent place to start. But the legacy players are still, by in large, weak in areas that journalists now need in order to be successful, including: Understanding user engagement, and not just page views and visits; A-B testing every headline of every story multiple times, not just once; tweaks in keywords to push search engine results; innovative uses of social to drive audience; the use of gamification; and much more. All of these are skills the new breed of journalist needs, which go far beyond the in-vogue “all-media” or “all-platform” journalist. Generally, that just means a journalist who can write a story and add a photo and video to it … and that’s so 2003.
I get a nauseous feeling every time I talk about this because I grew up in newspapers when they were king. Journalists wanted to reach the top of the profession working on stories for a major metropolitan publication. They wanted to write what they were passionate about --- whether it be sports, local government, entertainment, investigations, or any of the other available topics.
As newspapers have dwindled so have many writing opportunities --- at least in the legacy world. The digital world is quite different and holds opportunities for those up-and-coming journalists.