While goofing around on Facebook, I came across a post from Allyson Bird, a former journalist who blogged about why she left news. She writes about familiar journalist gripes: low pay and never-ending hours. The post seems to have rang true for many current and former journalists, and I have to say that she has a point.
I believe good journalism is the stuff of a proper democracy. It’s why I still teach it and why I still convince students to major in it. But, damn it, we better start backing that up with a way for journalists to make a decent living and have a better quality of life. Otherwise, we deserve a second coming of the dark ages.
You think the Internet, and its vast stores of knowledge, is going to save us? Go look at more cat videos. The Internet is a tool for information dissemination, nothing more. What we need is reliable information, and that comes from trained professionals.
You think anyone can provide reliable information? Try it. Try to get a politician to give you a straight answer. Try to explain sequestration in a one-minute blip on the radio. It’s not so easy.
Journalism, and all information, is only as good as the people who provide it. Undeniably, journalism is an industry embroiled in upheaval. However, I think it’s an industry that deserves to stick around in some form or another. It is certainly an industry that is not above reproach. News organizations screw up, and they should be called out when they do. Nevertheless, they get a lot right and, every once in a while, they might provide some pretty earth-shaking revelations.
The business model is broken. I don’t have the chops to fix it. Maybe you, by yourself, don’t either. Societal upheaval or industry upheaval isn’t anything new, however. We can figure it out if we just try.
I couldn’t care less what form news comes in — the Web, broadcast, print. The point is, we still need news. We need solid, reliable news. Allyson Bird, the former journalist who blogged about why she left news, will be fine. I wish her all the luck in the world. It’s not her loss. It is ours.