Like our JRN 450 class talked about last week, Gannett, Buzzfeed, HuffPost and other media organizations are experiencing layoffs. This seemed like a concern among those journalism majors who plan on working in the industry after graduation. I think it’s a concern for me, whether or not I end up reporting after I graduate next spring.
As someone who closely follows local news, the cuts at Gannett make me worry about the future of local journalism. In an article by Slate, the crisis facing journalism is outlined – and the story said that this crisis did not begin with the internet. Another article by the Columbia Journalism Review also goes over this crisis and now it has affected Gannett. Looking at these stories has helped eliminate some misconceptions I’ve had about layoffs and the changes that the world of journalism is currently experiencing. This problem started long before I had thought and it really doesn’t have as much to do with going digital as I thought it did.
One part of the Slate article that really struck me was: “That the Gannett news is not a red-alert story in the U.S. reflects a misunderstanding of the major problems facing American newspaper companies, an economic story that goes back further than the advent of the public internet in the 1990s. But it’s a story Americans need to know and understand better — because the news crisis you keep hearing about is a local problem. If you think there’s corruption in D.C., what’s happening at City Hall is often worse—and in more and more places, there’s no longer anyone paid to root it out.”
It’s interesting to me that when major news organizations experience cutbacks, we start talking about the state of journalism. What the Slate and Columbia Journalism Review articles try to convey is that the problems facing local news organizations are concerning. When layoffs/cutbacks happen to local organizations, there problem of having very few—or no—reporters who are able to report on local issues.
I often think about the state of the Detroit Free Press or the Lansing State Journal—both organizations I rely heavily on for local news. What if there weren’t enough reporters at those organizations to continue reporting on the issues they report on? Who will hold local government and local places accountable? It’s a scary thought.
I also thought about The State News. I’ve noticed that we cover things that some local organizations don’t really pay attention to, like East Lansing City Council meetings. Are those meetings not covered because there aren’t enough local journalists to cover them? Are local journalists covering “bigger,” “more important” topics?
Although this information can be concerning and scary, talking about it during class last week made me feel a little bit more content. I forget that there are many, many different media-related opportunities out there in the world, and I still have hope that many of my peers will do amazing things related to print and local journalism. We just need to invest in and pay attention to local journalism!