The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Gobs of information was set loose today in The State of the News Media 2004 report (which includes a great chart-generating section). Not that all of it is good news: The news business is at a crossroads where media outlets are splintering along several lines, while general trust in the traditional industry is eroding. This is reflected in job cutbacks at traditional media outlets, just at the time when more journalists are probably necessary to verify and follow up on news data:

Much of the new investment in journalism goes toward distributing the news, not gathering it, the study said. Newspapers have about 2,200 fewer newsroom employees today than in 1990, and network TV news has cuts its correspondents by a third since the 1980s.

As a journalist, what can I say? The same skills that go into professional journalism can be applied to a number of other fields that are way more lucrative: Public relations, advertising, corporate communications, financial analysis, etc. I know several people who've gone into those fields after becoming disenchanted with news, for a variety of reasons. And the resulting vacuum has to be filled by the people who are left, who are then stretched thin and can't do as thorough a job as otherwise possible. This isn't a new trend; it's been that way for the past couple of decades, at least.

The fact remains that you have to be a little crazy, and a lot dedicated, to make a go at journalism as a profession. There are certainly easier ways to earn a paycheck, and generally a bigger one (although you're never going to get rich working for someone else; that's the case in just about any industry).

More on this from me later, probably.