The crocodile existed back when the dinosaurs did, but eventually learned to adapt and become much smaller than it had been at one point. The crocodiles stepped aside to let the mammals take over, who were growing larger in size. This was part of the analogy associate director Mark Jurkowitz gave us at the Pew Research Center, where the crocodile stands for print journalism and the mammal stands for the digital age.
This was probably the most interesting thing I have learned this entire time because I had never thought about it that way. The crocodile still exists, but it’s not nearly as prominent as it once was. The mammals took over and became dominant. Print journalism still exists, but it probably won’t be as dominant as it once was because digital journalism will take over.
Prior to this trip (and any Whitworth class, really), I was dead set on being a traditional newspaper journalist. I had always wanted to be in the hustle-and-bustle of the newsroom, taking a million photos a day to meet deadline, and seeing tangible evidence that I had been published.
I’ve been holding on to the idea that I would work in print journalism for so long (and denying its decline), that I haven’t looked at this shift practically, and I don’t think other people have, either.
One day while I was at Babies R Us, one of my coworkers asked me what I was studying in college. When I said journalism, I knew I was setting myself up for a semi-embarrassing moment, because she began to lecture me on how journalism is dead and that I would never get a job. She said things like “all of the newspapers are now nonexistent” and that my choice to enter journalism “wasn’t practical.” I just nodded in agreement because I didn’t really know how to defend my decision to go into journalism — it is true, newspapers haven’t really been at the peak of their performance lately.
What I didn’t realize, though, is that journalism isn’t dead. Thanks to Jurkowitz, I realize that it’s just a shift, and nobody really knows where it’s going.
Becoming a journalism major wasn’t really the most comforting thing — my parents are afraid I won’t get a job, people harass me for the media that are out of control, and my coworkers at Babies R Us think I’m going to work there forever.
But I’m going to be OK. We’re all going to be OK. We just have to go with the flow, realizing the changes that are happening around us, and that we have to respond to those changes in order to make it. Even though print journalism won’t be as big as it was, we still have the digital age in our favor.
We are able to be published anytime we want because of the Internet. We are able to write whatever we want with the infinite amount of space on the web. We are able to make a name for ourselves prior to having a job (sort of).
So, the three greatest lessons that I’ve learned about journalism and journalists?
We have to be adaptable. We have to love what we do. We have to trust that this industry will make it.