So this newspaper that you're holding in your hand: How long do you think it's going to be around for? 25 years? 50? Will we have physical newspapers when we're (gasp!) all over 70 (and the hill)?
This is more or less the question that I, along with a lot of people in this business, have been grappling with. So what in God's name would make a near college-grad with a clean slate and a suitcase want to pursue a job in a field that he hears time and time again is going the way of the buffalo, thanks to more convenient news sources and an overworked population with no time to read an article?
It's a good question, and one I'm not sure I've completely worked out for myself, although I've had the opportunity. This summer I landed an internship as a copy editor at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Richmond, VA. I won't bore you with the details of the job, which some call a glorified proofreader, but I can assure you there's a lot more to it than that. (I also take comfort in the fact that we get paid more and are in higher demand that reporters. Suck on that, Bernstein and Woodward.)
The summer at the Times-Dispatch was (surprise) tremendously positive. I took away a lot of things, not the least of which was a sense that despite the hordes of burned-out, cantankerous line editors and reporters working towards retirement, there are people (perhaps more few and far between than I'd like) who are still excited about this field and the possibilities, rather than the immense challenges, that the digital age is offering those in the business of disseminating information. Not everyone was excited about change, to be sure, but to spend time around those that were was genuinely exhilarating.
My time there also helped me to understand, to a greater extent than I previously did, the phenomenally vital role that a newspaper plays in any community, from a global powerhouse like The New York Times to a humble college-wide 20-pager like The Lamron. Facilitating discussion in any arena and at any level is a worthy (though perhaps not a high-paying) pursuit, and I'm happy to take up the call.
And the truth is, I'm not all that scared that newspapers are suddenly going to die out. Of course the widespread public acceptance that your (likely) chosen career field is going down the toilet can be a bit, say, disconcerting, but I take comfort in the fact that as long as we have engaged, educated people who care about understanding their role in and impacting the world around them (here's at looking at you, Geneseo grads) there'll always be newspapers in some form or another, be they on paper or on a computer screen.
And, of course, as long as you've got writing, you're going need an editor. (Don't judge The Lamron too hard, by the way. You try catching this 4 a.m.)
So, who's hiring?