I remember the very first time I realized I wanted to be a journalist.
I was just a little tyke and I had a newfound habit of reading my local paper, The Record, from cover to cover every day. While doing this I fell in love with reading about the Mets. I would wake up at the crack of dawn, sit down at my dining room table and scour the pages of that wonderful broadsheet hoping that the team had done something incredible the day before.
Soon I began to drink coffee while reading the paper and the daily ritual became an integral part of my morning. While being enlightened with the news of the world, I soon began to fall in love with other aspects of the paper. The solid yet loose feel of it, the way a slight residue of ink smears on your fingertips and the smell of newsprint filling your nostrils all became a regular part of my morning.
While reading the sports page I decided that I wanted to grow up and see my name in print. I wanted to be like Bob Klapisch and cover baseball. I wanted to write that hard hitting story. I wanted to know the players’ names. I wanted to be a baseball writer.
Now, almost a decade later, I have come to realize that my dream of seeing my name in print might be slipping away.
I didn’t read BBC.com, Metsblog.com or Mlbtraderumors.com; There were no such things. Reading news on the internet? Absurd. The Internet was that thing my dad used that made all of those beeping noises which drove me crazy. There was The Record and what those little printed words on that wonderful smelling piece of paper told me.
Now all of that seems like it will be a piece of nostalgia that I’ll never get to revisit.
Journalism is different than it used to be and regardless of what you hear from anyone, it is not changing for anything close to “better.”
In a world where people read blogs over articles, watch Charlie Sheen over riots in Libya and get that useless information in the fastest manner possible, it’s not surprising that something like print news is dying.
The real problem with print isn’t that people my age aren’t picking up newspapers – it’s that we don’t physically read anything. God forbid you gain your news from something other than your Facebook wall or Twitter feed. Even books are on gadgets now.
The problems with online news sources are credibility and content. For me, a news source needs to gain some credibility to be taken seriously. For something to be considered news only 10 years ago, it had to be thoroughly reported, copy edited and fact-checked. There was a sense of pride in being published and printed. There was a sense that your writing was good enough to pass the test of editors and be printed for all eyes to see. This does not exist with the Internet.
For example, remember “columns?” They were those little pieces of opinion that were sprinkled throughout sections of a newspaper. You had to earn the right to write a column and oftentimes these columnists were respected for their well thought-out and well-argued pieces. The modern day example of this is journalism’s new favorite thing – blogs.
I’m guilty of trying to blog – much like marijuana, everyone tries it once. But for a blog to even be considered remotely close to journalism makes me sick. Anyone can blog and unfortunately anyone and everyone seems to read them. You like movies? Start a blog. You think you know politics? Start a blog. Call it news while you’re at it! Blogs have become so prevalent that they are oftentimes the most important thing on online-only news sites. But can you blame them? It’s what people want to read.
People love reading opinions. Unfortunately, true journalism is not opinion-based, regardless of what you hear these days.
Let’s face it: right now, the best news sources have something printed to back them up and give them credibility. Would you rather read an article from The New York Times or The Huffington Post? Anyone who just said The Huffington Post is delusional. A real source of news should have a strong web presence while also maintaining a well put together and strong print edition that supplements and gives credit to the online edition.
But, back to online news. It seems inevitable that one day online news will be the most efficient way for someone interested enough to gain news. It’s unfortunate but the wheels are turning and, unless a savior comes along, the end of print as the dominant source of news media is in sight. But that doesn’t mean that journalism has to fall into the death traps.
I will admit that some people have been doing it right. There are a few websites out there that are able to blend strong journalistic integrity with the instantaneous demand of the internet. Some people have really mastered news online. However, the problem is that for every good news site there are four or five poorly made ones masquerading as a valid source of news.
So, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the world will realize what they are losing in print and newspapers. Maybe online news sources will stress strong journalism and integrity rather than blogs and suspect coverage. All I can do is hope that maybe one day in the future, I will be able to put down a newspaper and smile as I see “By