An Invitation

Looking for letters from young journalists

Back in June, we gave one of our interns the daunting task of tracking newspaper buyouts and layoffs since 2007. She diligently worked the press clips and the phone and counted up to 2,700 by the end of the summer. The spreadsheet is not definitive but it is depressing—statistics from a plague (three here, twenty there; eighty here, 150 there) that is moving through newsrooms across the country.

Yet at the same time, a world of news innovation is emerging online, both inside and outside of mainstream media. A recession looms like an iceberg but under the waterline is something unknown, a great restructuring of the way people get their news and information. The recession will end, but the fate of quality journalism is not easily discernable. Here at CJR, we intend to do all we can to shed light on that future and to explore the efforts under way to repair or replace the economic model. And also to give voice to those affected.

In July, we invited laid-off and bought-out journalists to reflect on their experience in the form of a letter to colleagues. We published a number of them on our Web site under the rubric Parting Thoughts, and will continue to do so as they arrive.

Now we are issuing a similar invitation to the young people who’ve come into the profession in the last five years or so, and the young journalism students who soon will. We invite them to air their concerns and hopes about journalism, too. The central questions: What do you see in this business that makes you still want to pursue it? How do you imagine people will get quality news five years down the road? How will you try to fit in?

We’ll call this one Starting Thoughts, and if you fit the category (or know young reporters or journalism students who do), we invite you to join the discussion by emailing us at We’re looking for anything from 600 to 1,200 words. Please put “Starting Thoughts” in the slug line.

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The Editors are the staffers of Columbia Journalism Review.