It seems as if more and more newspapers are closing their doors or cutting back; as a friend called it: “Paper cuts.” We all know from experience how much a tiny paper cut can hurt. Jobs lost in the journalism industry, no matter how small, can injure the public’s knowledge on a much wider scale.
Take for instance our tiny paper here at The Globe. I have a small staff, which means that not everything gets covered that needs it. I have only a few writers to send on various events, sports games and investigative assignments.
On a much larger scale, the Salt Lake Tribune had to lay off many of its reporters last year, leaving fewer and fewer people to be watchdogs over the government and industries.
The University of Utah’s newspaper, The Chronicle, is facing its own “paper cuts.” It’s been losing advertising revenue and readership similar to the big newspapers. They are looking to revamp their image while keeping the tradition of old school newspapers. The Globe is connected to The Chronicle’s ad sales, so changes to The Chronicle can mean big changes for us as well in the coming months.
Journalism itself is not tied to the physical paper though, so the challenge of the new generation of journalists is to figure out how to propagate the profession and get real news into the hands of the willing masses while maintaining a clear distinction from Joe Schmoe Blogger.
Regarding the growing number of citizen journalists, I was watching BBC’s Sherlock the other day when he said to Watson: “Put that in your blog, or better yet, stop inflicting the world with your opinion.”
Now I like reading blogs just as much as the next person, but that’s just what it is, opinion, often based on little fact.
Journalists go to school to learn to keep most of their bias out of the picture. I can’t say it always happens, but at least they are trained to know the difference between fact and opinion.
Most journalists also learn how to investigate facts and check others’ claims for accuracy; to tell both sides of a story. Bloggers are often only interested in one side, and actively promote a single side. Journalists also must maintain a reputation to keep their job. If they are known to be sloppy about the ideals of journalism, or worse, deceitful, they won’t prosper in the field. Bloggers can generally say whatever they want without real penalty. Though if a news source says they are fair and balanced, they probably are not.
The Globe newspaper is for students, by students. It’s a great educational resource. If fewer and fewer papers are maintained, there won’t be another avenue for students to gain this sort of experience in the field of journalism. Maybe if media literacy courses were taught and offered in grade schools, people would understand the importance of journalists. Even if the medium is going digital, journalists are still an important component. And hopefully that will mean fewer “paper cuts.”