At a young age, I discovered a love of writing. I wrote full-length stories, complete with compelling female characters who took on everything from fighting crime to everyday life in the suburbs. I also created my own magazines, cutting out pictures from real publications and gluing them onto my own articles, stapling the whole bundle together once I was done. I envisioned a future for myself as a best-selling author or the Editor-in-Chief of a well-known magazine.
Fast forward to when it was time to apply to college and figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I felt enormous pressure as I learned that the industry I had always imagined I would spend my career in was going through massive change. I ended up entering college with a major in Journalism, my dream of being a reporter or an editor still intact. As time went by, doubt in myself and the media industry set in as more and more people told me I could never make money as a journalist or as a writer. Nevertheless, I pushed on with my studies and continued to hone my writing craft.
After my second year of college, I had the opportunity to be a research assistant for a very smart professor who was studying fake news during the 2016 presidential election, Rachel Mourao. I was eager to embark on this research with her, as I had seen the industry undergo severe scrutiny during and after the election.
Journalists who worked for legacy publications and abided by a strict Code of Ethics were being accused of producing so-called fake news, and I wanted to get to the bottom of it as much as she did. I wanted to help restore the reputation of my profession and industry. I wanted to help show that we were still the good guys, the watchdogs. While we uncovered some very interesting findings through that summer study, it didn’t stop the phrase from being thrown around constantly throughout that year and the next. The issue of fake news was only one part of a much larger problem the industry was facing.
Approximately a year later, I found myself sitting in my very last class to complete my journalism degree, Media Marketing and Entrepreneurship. I assumed I knew everything about the state of the media industry until I read the Pew Research Center’s State of the News Media report for 2018. Although many of the findings were things I expected, such as the decline of newspapers, I was surprised to learn that the industry many people believe is dying actually seems to be making a comeback.
Traditional radio has experienced steady revenue and audience levels, although stations specializing in news have not been quite as lucky. Online radio and podcasts are growing, and more and more publications are trying to find their place on the medium. Digital native outlets are also doing well, learning from their legacy counterparts how to maximize online advertising revenue.
I was glad to see a silver lining in the report. It gives me hope for the future of media and journalism. I think it shows that the industry is full of fighters, innovators and entrepreneurs. As Professor Haimerl said on the first day of class, the shifts in the media industry are never about content — they’re always about the medium and the delivery of content. Good journalism will always be valuable as long as we know how to deliver it the way audiences want to consume it.
While we may be in the middle of an intense shift in the industry, the report gives me hope that we’re changing for the better. I believe we’re becoming savvy media marketers and content creators with a better idea of how the business works. I think this resilience will help us come out even stronger from this wave of change.