I heard once that it’s more important to do a job you love and make it a career than do a job and hate going into work every day. So when people say that journalism is a lost art and that it’s insane to want to be a journalist, I say calm down and stop crushing people’s dreams!
Sure, it’s difficult if your line of work is dependent on other people—people are so unpredictable and their interests change faster than the hands on a clock. Just because some article says that to be a newspaper journalist is the worst job to have, doesn’t mean it’s true. Sites and surveys like those only focus on raw data: how much money one makes, how many hours on average are spent working, or even how much individuals report stress. In my experience, these surveys never ask people why they got into that career path and what they love about it. I know that I have plenty of friends who thrive in high stress situations but still love it, so maybe journalists are a little more capable at handling stress than people in other positions.
Now the fact that journalists love what they do despite not being well rewarded for it doesn’t mean that their enthusiasm alone will be able to save the industry. We as a society are definitely moving more toward primarily digital reading—and that’s with everything from books to newspapers. The nostalgic feeling of thumbing through a paper with a nice, strong mug of coffee next to you is slowly being overshadowed by scrolling through newsfeeds with a mediocre and either slightly too sweet or way to bland cup of Starbucks while waiting for the bus. But why are we moving toward this more fast paced style of getting the news—it’s cheaper for the news companies and more accessible for us.
So what can companies do to try and make up for the profits they’ve lost in the past year? Well like many newspapers, local news companies can try implementing metered paywalls, a payment system that allows for some free access to material while charging for other amenities. Or, it’s also possible that smaller companies could change the way they present the news: go from a daily to a weekly or bi weekly, use a different delivery system, or try promoting their paper to a more specific target group like a local high school and build up interest from that smaller group.
However, it’s important to not forget that interest in news is on the rise. Why? Because the current administration churns out ridiculousness faster than the New York Times can print its daily newspapers! With all of the executive orders, golf trips, tirades, and other shenanigans coming out of Capitol Hill, interest in bigger news companies has been on the rise. Local newspapers still face some difficulty, perhaps if they produce similar stories to their national counterparts more interest will be produced as well.