There used to be a perception that a university degree would result in a bright job future. You’d put in three or four years of hard work and be rewarded by open-armed employers ready to put your skills to use. Reality is much harsher than this and getting a full-time gig can be really, really challenging. Journalism students face a particularly uncertain future, with universities continuing to pump an oversupply of graduates into the job market. According to the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, there are an estimated 10,000 journalists employed in Australia, with an estimated 6,000 of those in freelance, part-time or casual roles. Crikey found there were 1750 journalism students enrolled across each undergraduate year level in a one-year period, equalling 17.5 per cent of the industry in just one year’s supply of graduates.
Reporter Hilde Kate Lysiak got the tip early Saturday afternoon that there was heavy police activity on Ninth Street. She hustled over with her pen and camera, as any good reporter would, and soon she posted something short online, beating all her competitors. Then, working the neighbors and the cops, she nailed down her scoop with a full-length story and this headline: "EXCLUSIVE: MURDER ON NINTH STREET!" The online story not only beat the local daily paper, but she also included a short video from the crime scene, assuring viewers that "I'm working hard on this investigation." Then Monday came and Hilde had to go back to third grade.
All of the gloomy reports about newspaper circulation rapidly dropping, network news ratings declining and reporters being laid off might lead you to believe that journalism itself is dying. But journalism is alive and well. It is just that the way reporters do their job is changing. With the growing popularity of the Internet, gone are the days of print-only or TV-only newsrooms. Media companies no longer have to wait for the evening broadcast or tomorrow's edition to report the news. Almost all media outlets are breaking stories on their Web sites, and the news cycle has become 24-7. Journalists need to change, as well. Instead of thinking of themselves as only print journalists or broadcast journalists, they need to think of themselves as journalists, period.
As a local TV investigative reporter, Bob Segall has exposed a federal tax loophole costing taxpayers billions, busted Indiana officials for exaggerating "economic success stories" and given bullied kids a voice, all while picking up a bunch of big awards along the way. Yet, Segall, 43, who now works at Dispatch Broadcast Group's NBC affiliate WTHR Indianapolis, credits a brief foray into public relations in the late 1990s -- something he "kind of hated every minute of" -- as a defining moment in his career, primarily because he learned how the other side works. "They taught me the art of not answering questions," Segall says. Being trained in "how to redirect questions" and "defending the company when journalists come calling" has paid off time and again, Segall says.
The classroom at the City University of New York sat attentively watching the browser on the large screen point to LinkedIn. Everyone in the room was familiar with the social network, but they were journalists and had come to see how they could use it for their own specific purposes. While explaining how the audience could use LinkedIn, Corporate Communications Manager Yumi Wilson was also ushering them through a social media door, one she has unlocked for journalists in person or through online webinars over the past several months. It's all part of an expansion strategy for LinkedIn, which has seen membership grow exponentially from 32 million members in 2008 to 300 million in 2014. One part of that strategy is inviting journalists into a group called LinkedIn for Journalists, which boasts more than 55,000 members.
On Tuesday night, "Morning Joe" cohost Mika Brzezinski--looking elegant in a ruffled black dress and a black coat with a ruffled fringe to match--stood in a pair of Louboutins before a long line of young women in the lecture hall of Columbia's journalism school. The women--mostly students and alumnae of the school--told Brzezinski one by one that she was an inspiration, a strong woman in the boys' club of broadcast journalism. They asked to take selfies with her. "Check if it's good!" Brzezinski called out after every cell-phone picture was snapped. If it was blurry, she insisted they retake it. If it was good, she asked them to tweet it. (Many obliged.) As the line dwindled, one young woman--dressed casually in a lacy, somewhat sheer purple sweater--approached Brzezinski.
Every so often I like to showcase a few stories by TV stations that are a cut or two above average and highlight the breadth of topics local news operations around the country are covering. These particular stories cover a range of topics — breaches of airport security in Nashville; abbreviated prison sentences in Indiana; industrial pollution in North Birmingham, Ala.; and uncertified, previously owned mattresses in Detroit.
The latest annual survey by the Radio Television Digital News Association and Hofstra University has found local TV news staffs added 1,131 jobs last year, with TV news employment now at its second-highest level ever. The survey also found the average television station set a new record for the amount of local news aired with an average of five and a half hours of local news coverage a day. Most agree that an improved advertising economy and additional revenues from retransmission consent are helping local TV stations increase their investment in local news programming.
There are plenty of warning signs about the ongoing disruption in the media industry, and everyone is looking for someone to blame. But when it comes to their journalistic competition, many traditional outlets still seem to look primarily at other media players such as the Huffington Post, Buzzfeed or Politico. As information architect and web developer Stijn Debrouwere notes in a smart post about the evolution of media, however, the reality is that much of what we find competing with journalism in the digital world are things we barely even recognize as journalism. How the industry adapts to that change will be the real challenge.
Responding to a survey that ranked TV and radio news as one of the 10 worst jobs in the country, many broadcasters say they love their work despite the stress, falling salaries, cutbacks and little growth potential cited by Careercast. A group well versed in deciphering bad news, TV news pros aren't buying Careercast.com's report naming broadcasting one of the 10 worst jobs in the country. "Well, I burst out laughing," says Hank Phillippi Ryan, an investigative reporter with WHDH, Sunbeam's NBC affiliate in Boston. "I love my job as a TV reporter."