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Stepping into the Collapse of Newspapers

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“Society doesn’t need newspapers.  What we need is journalism,” Clay Shirky said in his post Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable. As someone who is involved with journalism, I never thought about the distinction in that way.  I have always taken for granted that newspapers are journalism, but as Shirky points out, this is just a coincidental and fragile connection.

For someone like me, who is just months away from graduation and trying to find a journalism career, this would seem quite depressing.  The industry I am stepping into is collapsing and downsizing.  However, after reading Clay Shirky and hearing Gardner Campbell, I am actually quite excited to be stepping into this place.  At this point, I am entirely unprepared to step into this industry, but the article made me realize that everyone, even the most experienced journalists, are unprepared for this as well.  I am literally stepping into an industry where I, with just a few years of experience, am more qualified to be an online journalist than the 30 veterans of the New York Times.  And, this is because I am still unhindered by common perceptions about how a newspaper should run.  Instead, it is 20 year olds who are capable of dreaming a new journalism industry.  And, when we look back in just 10 years, nobody will have seen this coming and nobody will have been able to predict the new model of journalism.  As Shirky pointed out, “Now is the time for experiments, lots and lots of experiments, each of which will seem as minor at launch as craigslist did, as Wikipedia did, as octavo volumes did.”

However, I do agree with Gardner Campbell that education is not preparing students for this type of life venture.  I have always considered my self proficient in the internet.  Of course, I could use Facebook, write a blog, search Google, watch Youtube, etc.  But, now I am realizing that I am not proficient at all.  My education has prepared me very little to experiment with the internet in a way that would allow me creativity.  My professors have only pushed BlackBoard and blogs, but they have never really asked us to create entirely new websites and ideas.  Even my journalism classes have not sought to prepare me for the experimentation and launch of new journalism models.  Instead, we seem to be stuck in a place where online creativity is halted by current structures.

I don’t know about you, but I am excited…and nervous to find a job.

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