Journalists, especially Americans, often become the story and even seek to be the story for many reasons; fortune, fame, passion, competition, professional ambition. All of these reasons are valid in any business. But lately with the slow fade of print journalism in particular, there are ample stories on journalism and journalists.
Journalists work for companies and many of these companies currently have great debt and questionable futures. There are freelancers in the field as well who do not benefit from a company umbrella, salary, insurances, and guidance. News is business, but lately journalists have made a great deal about the dangers of the Internet.
What’s becoming apparent is that the media companies more obviously leverage their media pulpits to further this debate and sanctify the journalistic profession. So, what never seems an item of discussion is that news is a business. The business, the “industry” suffers from the same economic downturn affecting the car industry, manufacturing, retail, restaurants, and the financial sector. The list goes on. And many journalists along with their fellow American workers have lost their jobs this year.
Perhaps it’s an extension of the “too big to fail” trend we’ve witnessed in other sectors. Or rather, according to the journalists, they are too important to fail. Journalists rally around their constitutional duty. It’s a convenient spot in this bleak economy.
Businesses are run by business owners and in the case of news organizations, journalists do not sit upon boards of directors. Granted, journalists are editors, but they answer to shareholders, a board, or an owner, sometimes two out of three. Who we do not see on these discussion roundtables, listen to on the radio, or read in printed media are the news business people. Few journalists have the business savvy to talk about the business from a position of competency or authority.
Despite this, the discussions will continue. The doomsday predictions of how the Internet and Google are destroying journalism make for great articles. But the train’s already left the station. Despite the fact that journalists with journalism degrees and pedigree bemoan their marginalization based upon the proliferation of blogs, someone should inform them that there are actually people writing who have some competency in crafting a decent paragraph.
Therefore, on behalf of the Professional Organization of English Majors (P.O.E.M.), I hereby encourage fellow lovers of words to write their hearts out often and well.