How else to explain the fact that journalism schools are turning out more graduates than ever? Writes Katherine Q. Seelye in the New York Times:
The newspaper industry cut more than 2,000 jobs last year as it continued to lose readers and advertisers to the Internet. Network newscasts are being propped up by older viewers and continue to lose market share to cable. Regular reports of ethical breaches are undermining public trust in all news organizations, bloggers accuse the mainstream media of being arrogant and clueless, and Wall Street expresses little confidence in its financial future.The students Seelye spoke to remain positive, despite the doomsday rhetoric. Said one 22-year-old graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism: "Newspaper people are too pessimistic. Part of the nature of journalism is to adapt to your surroundings. We can't all stay in our ruts. If you get into this whole spiral of, 'Woe is us, the industry is going down,' then it will go down."
But there is one corner of the profession still enjoying a boom: journalism schools.
Besides, says another, "You don't go into this profession to get rich. There are financial sacrifices, it's a tough profession, you're under fire, and it's not necessarily the most popular thing to say you're a journalist. But it's a calling."
Their professional future, many of the students believe, lies in the Internet and "new media landscape." But gawker, the media blog that has become a central part of said "new media landscape," is less enthusiastic to say the least. Consider this Jan. 19 post:
It is, for the most part, a depressing time to be in the reporting game. Newspapers are dying quickly; magazines are dying only slightly more slowly; and the network news divisions are basically already dead. People in the business are wondering what they'll do; people not in the business are glad they're not; and those in it who are young enough, and smart enough, are making plans to get out. Shockingly, though, The Hartford Courant — American's oldest continuously published newspaper, so they've got something riding on this — has found a group of people bullish on the future of this journalism thing. Is one an upstart analyst, who's found some good news buried in a balance sheet somewhere? Nope. Is there some think-tank graybeard who actually has something good to say about how kids these days are doing journalism? Of course not. Perhaps the one working reporter who finally found employment security and a 401(k) that's not underwater? No way.
The Courant is reporting, rather, that there are more kids than ever in j-school, and that the j-school kids, despite all evidence to the contrary, are still bullish on their chosen field. This is great news, of course. Until you remember one thing: These are people gullible enough to pay for j-school in the first place.
The business is doomed.