Who is teaching the next generation of journalists?

Editors have been cut. I assume there are more young journalists freelancing and those with staff jobs can’t be getting the same attention. College journalism professors are almost all naturally inclined to a generation no longer here.

Who the hell is teaching the next generation of journalists?

No one knows what it’s store. Some young journalists are offering to work for a pittance – and others are saying that’s bad for journalism.

After my contributing to a business-news blog was cut, my editor said something to me. When he was a young reporter, perhaps at my skill and experience level, he entered got an entry level job with the Wall Street Journal – which had plenty more openings in the 1970s. He made plenty of mistakes, but at that time, newspapers were over-edited. My editor said he had three, four, five editors going through his copy.

That also meant he had a haggard-old newshound teaching him the ropes. Giving him the rules, working his copy, pushing him to go further, offering my editor the time and energy to pursue coverage that might not end up worth it in the end.

Of course that isn’t happening today. Something has to be lost today. I am not being vetted in the same way a journalist of my age and interest would be in a newspaper era now gone. All that stuff we want newspapers to still do in the future may be done by less experienced or challenged or learned caliber.

I suspect editors today are much more burdened and time consumed than their predecessors, but they might not even realize it. Because they don’t have the time or the resources, they likely don’t even know they aren’t passing those same gifts of knowledge and inspiration that they were given by their editors of the past.

As I wrote in an essay for the Columbia Journalism Review last month:

As long as the current generation is here to pass the search of justice onto its successor, the rest is just details we’ll sweat over for the next few years. [Source]

Rather than revenue model, though, my real concerns involve talent. With frighteningly bad pay some aspiring journalists are fleeing the field. Many of the young reporters who are now freelancing – I suppose myself included – aren’t be cultivated or directed in the same way they were even just five years ago.

So who will be left when the revenue model gets figured out for news media? What will that next generation look like? Will it be smaller but stronger, or duller and, sadly, fuller with only those wealthy enough to self-fund or parentally-fund their newspaper or magazine idoloatry?

Photo from Europa.eu.

2 thoughts on “Who is teaching the next generation of journalists?”

  1. Excellent post. My friends and I have been talking about this very concept. Either the veterans are completely cut from a staff or the few that remain are so overworked because of staff cuts that they don’t have time to mentor young journalists. It really is a concern for the future. You can learn a lot by just doing the job, but that learning is really supplemented by vets who can give tips along the way.

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