I recently reconnected with an old friend in the newspaper business, who now edits a community newspaper in Wisconsin.
One of his first questions was, “What’s the attitude of students taking journalism classes these days?”
He didn’t have to explain further. It was clear that he meant, “Are they worried about the state of jobs in the journalism world.”
My response was short. I wrote:
“Their attitude is pretty good.
“They’re realistic about the business model – or lack thereof – for sustaining newspapers. But they’re also hopeful about new media opportunities.
“One of the first things I did at MCCC was create a new media journalism course and add a Web site for the student newspaper.
“I emphasize over and over to students that graduates who get jobs will be those who are equally comfortable writing a news story, shooting and editing a video, blogging, using social networking, etc.
“And as you can imagine, they take to all that like fish to water. But they also love the newspaper and want their stories published in the print version, too.”
I’ve read a number of articles this fall about student use of college newspapers around the country. The research shows that students are still reading college newspapers – often spending more time with them than with the newspaper’s Web site.
That seems to amaze people, because the same surveys report that students get most of their news online
Of course, there’s one simple explanation. College newspapers – like The Agora, the student newspaper at MCCC – are lying around all over campus. When you’re waiting for a class to start or munching a burger in the cafeteria, they’re handy.
But it’s more than that.
I also think that newspapers retain a certain cache with young people. They don’t think about them first – they turn to their cell phone first, their laptop second. A newspaper is an afterthought.
But I’ve noticed that journalism students don’t want their stories to be posted only on the Web. They also want to see them in print.
It means more to them that their article is enshrined in newsprint and ink. It gives it a sort of permanency, or maybe legitimacy.
At any rate, the answer to my old friend’s question is that students are hopeful they’ll have jobs in journalism.
And some of them actually hope they’ll be able to work for a newspaper.