With the advent of the 24-hour news cycle, news-on-demand, breaking news on social media, bloggers, and the free market of ideas and news that the Internet has provided, it is safe to say that traditional print journalism will never be as it was before. The days of graduating from college, getting a job at a paper, and working your way up to being a hotshot editor are gone. Writing has always been a hustle, but with fewer publications with full-time staff writers, jobs are scarce, and the ones that exist are not often vacant.
This may be why many journalism schools have taken to teaching entrepreneurship, in addition to writing and reporting. PBS recently did a special called “Journalism Schools Become Incubators for Media Startups, Entrepreneurs.” After newspapers across the country started doing massive layoffs and buyouts, non-profit journalism, through organizations like Pro Publica and the Poynter Institute tried to pick up the slack. They became the place for investigative journalism, international journalism, and in-depth criticism to flourish, but they can only do so much.
Now, with further shrinking staffs and more publications going totally digital, j-schools are encouraging the next generation of news people to create their own platforms in order to be able to write about the things that matter to them. I have a BA in Magazine Journalism from The University of Georgia and a MA in Arts Journalism from Syracuse University, and I have never worked full time at a publication. I write as a freelancer for various arts publications, because I like writing about the arts, but I also know that full-time positions for arts critics, feature writers, and reviewers are becoming extinct. In fact, while I was in grad school a couple of women in my program started an arts reviewing website in order to practice their crafts.
I’m not one to stop change, but I wonder, is entrepreneurship the only way to make it as a journalist now? Is journalism becoming a career for the privileged and tech savvy? And if it is, is digitization of the media isolating a certain population of readers?