It comes as no surprise in this era of Big Data that the top three jobs of 2016 are data scientist, statistician, and information security analyst, according to Career Cast.
It should also surprise no one that the 200th job on the list of the Top 200 jobs is newspaper reporter.
“Employment of reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts is projected to decline 9 percent from 2014 to 2024,” reports the Department of Labor. “Declining advertising revenue in radio, newspapers, and television will negatively impact the employment growth for these occupations.”
Truth be told, newspaper reporting has never been a particularly secure or lucrative career. As Robert Duvall tells Glenn Close in The Paper, “If you try to make this job about the money, you’ll be nothing but miserable because we don’t get the money. Never have, never will.”
But America needs its journalists — perhaps now more than ever.
“Far from considering journalists to be irritating pains in the neck,” writes former U.S. Congressman Lee Hamilton, “I believe them to be indispensable to our democracy. Our system rests on citizens’ ability to make discriminating judgments about policies and politicians. Without the news, information, and analysis that the media provides, this would be impossible.”
Don’t know any reporters personally? Think Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in All the President’s Men or Russell Crowe in State of Play. True, Hollywood romanticizes its leading characters, but sometimes such idealistic portrayals are needed to remind us of what’s important – in this case, the essential role the Fourth Estate: serving as watchdog, reporting the truth, and holding those in power accountable.
Not so surprisingly, the release of All the President’s Men caused “journalism schools around the country [to see] a spike in enrollment, as thousands of students launched journalism careers in the wake of Watergate.”
More recently, the 2015 Oscar-winning Spotlight highlighted the work of The Boston Globe’s investigative team a mere decade ago — a phenomenon much less likely to happen today, thanks to daily newspapers’ diminishing staffs.
“Spotlight is best in class, not just because it documents the cover-up of [the Boston priests’] sexual abuse, but because it shows the curiosity, tenacity, and fortitude required by journalists to bring such a story to light,” writes investigative journalist Angela Mollard. “Not since All the President’s Men has our ilk garnered so much respect. It’d be lovely to bathe in the glory and worthiness of our trade; to reminisce about why we chose these careers in the first place; to breathe a sigh of relief that we’re not being portrayed as buffoons or dysfunctional workaholics as per Anchorman or The Newsroom.”
“But the truth is investigative journalism is no longer a beast with bared teeth but a beleaguered mongrel limping along on an amputated leg,” Mollard adds. “Digital disruption, the rise of ‘churnalism,’ reduced advertising revenue and news lists formulated for clicks not credibility, have decimated newsrooms and the resources once devoted to probing and researching, even if there was no guarantee of an outcome.”
So what does the future hold for aspiring journalists?
“Sarah Bartlett, dean of the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism, is immersed in this world — and she’s optimistic,” reports the Washington Post. “Four of every five of her school’s graduates are finding work in their field within six months of graduation.”
“If they’re talented, they are able to get hired,” Bartlett says. “And because they have the new skills, they are the new leaders in a lot of newsrooms.”
Adds the Post’s Margaret Sullivan, “Although I’m acutely aware of the troubled landscape, and I don’t dismiss the problems, I also don’t buy the gloom and doom. And I would never discourage any talented and driven young person from entering the fray, with eyes wide open.”
In other words, this country will always need journalists to research stories, to interview sources, and to communicate issues to the public.
So even as journalism’s platforms change incessantly, the fundamental skills of reporting remain the same. And before too long, Hollywood will produce a journalistic thriller in which a non-profit, online newsroom (think ProPublica) or an enterprising, internet news site (à la CTNewsJunkie) plays a starring role.
Barth Keck is an English teacher and assistant football coach who also teaches courses in journalism and media literacy at Haddam-Killingworth High School.
DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.