I was going to break one of the biggest stories of the 2008 presidential campaign. … And then the Patriot cubicle flooded with about every other reporter there. “Burned!” Murphy shouted at me, the other reporters laughing. The entire newsroom, state representatives, and political operatives across the state were part of the most elaborate prank I ever faced.
“Iknew Rendell would be a stupid choice,” was all I could offer.
Who else does that at work? Why wouldn’t young people be drawn to that, as it becomes rarer still? I get to tell stories. And call people on the phone and ask them questions. I write. A lot. Every day. Sometimes people even pay me a little bit of money to do it.
Interest in media has blossomed with its coverage of itself. Media columnists and blogs have made eroding advertising in newspapers a top story, and this has strangely become an advertisement for the profession.
But there’s more, I think.
I know what that old gray reporter in the corner represents: He is drenched with information, and we haven’t found out how to wring him out online like we once could onto a broadsheet. So for now, he remains a damn good party guest, filled with the types of stories that only journalists can acquire. The sex appeal of something once standard is never higher than when it’s nearest to its demise.
So I and a quarter million others want in—even if they tell us not to, or perhaps because of it.
News will be created in much the same way in the future. I have learned skills from legends and have no plans of abandoning what I have been taught is good and right in journalism. What will change is how news is disseminated. More and more it will come to readers through RSS feeds and podcasts on mobile devices.
The duty of every young reporter with dreams of saving journalism is to merge the two: the lessons of the old and the technologies of the new. 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. Newspapers will consolidate and newsrooms will shrink, but we’ll be left with what we have now, creatures of the news, however their numbers are diminished.
That’s why I’m here fighting for bylines in shrinking publications during the worst economy in a generation or three—to become another battle-tested, truth-seeking storyteller, like every other young journalist before and after me.