As an industry, journalism is in a sorry state.
I’m not the first to say it.
Print publications such as The London Free Press are slowly dying. No one knows how to make online media work as a business. Reporters and editors today have no ethics.
Sound familiar? I’m not telling you anything you haven’t already heard.
And now for the good news about the news biz.
As a group, the young journalists I know are the most promising crop of media professionals I have ever come across.
The rookie journalists I work with here at The Free Press, the ones I teach in my classes at Western University, may have more raw talent, purer ambition, higher standards, than any previous generation.
Since I graduated from Ryerson University in 1996, I’ve worked in five different newsrooms across this country. I’ve worked with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of different people of all age groups.
I realize there are burnouts. I know there is deadwood. We are no different than any other industry.
But when I look at the up-and-comers, I am heartened. I believe the profession is in good hands.
It may take time, but I’m confident the good ones among them will find steady employment. The better ones will create their own jobs. And the best ones will unlock the puzzle that is online journalism which, in its own way, is as revolutionary an opportunity as cable television, gonzo journalism and the printing press.
I’ve seen them at work. I’ve edited their copy. I’ve bounced story ideas off them. I’ve bought them coffees and even stronger drinks.
As individuals and as a group, I have a bedrock faith in today’s aspiring journalists.
My conclusion: THEY inspire ME. There’s no reason to fret..
No, it’s myself that I’m worried about.
Am I doing my part? Am I fulfilling my obligations to them? Am I doing enough to show them the way?
I hope so.
After 22 years as a journalist, I feel as though part of my mission on this planet should be to help light the path ahead. As a practising reporter/editor/columnist/blogger and journalism educator, I feel the weight of high expectations on my shoulders.
Maybe this all sounds needlessly high-minded. However, I try to take my role seriously. I do believe one individual can make a difference.
If I have had a successful career, it’s because many individuals took the time to help me along the way. I am, for lack of a better term, a believer in karma. It has worked to my advantage many times over the decades.
So it’s my responsibility to leave journalism in better shape than I found it.
I hope, rather than believe, that I am allowing the next generation to inherit a healthy industry. Sometimes it doesn’t seem that way. I have done my damn best and now time will tell.
They are the future. And from where I’m sitting, the future looks bright.