Facebook, Twitter, videos uploaded from iPhones to YouTube; information comes swiftly speeding all over the globe to reach those thirsty for information. It’s amazing how, within seconds of some major news event, anyone with complete access to the internet can be updated with the knowledge of that event’s existence. Today in our internet age the consumer is incredibly fortunate to be able to acquire information at the tips of their fingers in an instant, but while the digital age is booming with new possibilities, journalists are becoming concerned about their own futures.
As young students of journalism, naturally, they’re thinking about the future and whether it’s a waste of time to go into such a field that, to a large amount of individuals, seems so up in the air. With the amount of uncertainty that exists during a time when tuition costs are high, jobs are limited and student loans still need to be paid back after graduation, journalism seems less appealing to those attempting to make a career out of it.
So why not just give up on journalism and let the non-journalists on the internet do all the work? Well, the journalists of today are retold over and over again as to why journalists still exist and why they will most likely continue to exist in the future.
“The Crystal Cox case reminds us that journalists need special protections, as a part of their work, to ensure their sources remain confidential,” CJ Cornell wrote in an article for PBS’s Idea Lab. “Occupy Wall Street represents countless examples where journalists are granted special access.”
Crystal Cox refers to herself as an “investigative blogger” and not a journalist. What’s the difference you ask? Well Kevin Padrick, an attorney and co-founder of Obsidian Finance Group in Lake Oswego, Ore, was able to sue Crystal Cox for defamation after she blogged that he acted illegally and unethically as a trustee in a federal bankruptcy proceeding. Because she wasn’t tied to any news publication with legal teams, and didn’t have the definition of a journalist backing her up with her freedom of the press, she ended up losing her case and ended up having to pay $2.5 million to Padrick.
The backing that Cox lacked ended up hurting her in the long run, but for others, lacking the proper skill and training can lead you in the path toward inaccurate information. The regular Joes on the blogosphere may get a story out through Twitter as soon as it happens, but fact checking, research, interviews and proofreading from journalism professionals will answer the who, what, when, where, why and how that you may not get from a tweet.
Journalism school encourages eager young people searching for careers, in starting a conversation and spreading knowledge about the world around them, to learn more about gathering accurate information and distributing the truth to people willing to stay in the loop.
The digital age obvious creates new challenges and situations that did not exist in the older days when print journalism was king, but if journalism adapts and uses these new technologies as tools, rather than large obstacles, to produce the same quality work in a new and exciting way, then journalism will thrive.
“Never forget that journalism is all about the public,” said Geneva Overholser, director of USC Annenberg’s School of Journalism, in a recent Nieman Journalism Lab article. “We can easily focus on the new technologies, the new social media tools, and the new possibilities for financial support. Yet the far more interesting and promising change is the new way of working with the public to make journalism better than it has ever been.”