Today I stumbled on the most alarming article I have ever consumed since I could read my A,B,Cs… Journalism Tops List of Most Useless College Degrees. Rounding up the top 5 were Horticulture, Agriculture, Advertising and Fashion Design. For anyone who has dedicated a first, second and third degree to the pen-wielding profession, this is surely a guaranteed heartbreaker.
I threw this revelation open to my friends on Twitter and got some reactions I would like to share here. @stillspencer said “no disrespect, but journalism is not what it used to be. Too many amateurs degrading the profession. Game changers needed to fix journalism.” @thudson13 almost made me burst into tears with his response. He said, “That’s depressing. Although hardly surprising. Maybe I should have gone into computer science or engineering”. For a profession I love, that hit me like a break-up letter, but understandably so :)
I don’t think Journalism assumed this somewhat lowly position overnight. As soon as the Internet began its viral spread across societies, one didn’t need a seer to envisage the encroaching break down of professional journalism practice. With the influx of the Internet alongside other developments in information and communication technologies, everyone became equipped to become a journalist of some sort. The Citizen Journalists.
Bainca Vazquez Toness, a professional journalist, was able to use her iPhone to record a top-notch broadcast-quality sound interview for a radio program, upon forgetting her huge radio kit at home. C’mon we are all aware of the classroom-overused expression founded by Marshal McLuhan, “the world is now a global village”.
I refuse to perceive the useless list (pun intended) as a pointer to the fact that Journalism may be losing it’s value as a profession. Rather, I choose to see it this way: Journalism is finally going to be practiced the way it should have been practiced. I know this sounds ironic, so I will expatiate on my view.
The obligation of a Journalist is to serve as the watch-dog of the society, the 4th estate-of-the realm and all that journalese we were taught in class. Wouldn’t you agree with me that the more the merrier it would be to perform that function?
So Journalism is no longer a ‘closed-cult’ for the certificate holders, but an ‘open-air-party’, so what?
The more (citizen) reporters there are to check and balance the government for instance, the better it is for the society I must confess. When a politician realizes for instance, that every member of his immediate environment is a prospective journalist, I trust he/she would behave his or herself.
On a final note, I take solace in the fact that the chaff will always be separated from the wheat. Professionalism will always stand-out from amateurism. Journalism has never promised a fat-pay-cheque (I have discussed this on Teesdiary: Journalism: Glamour or Glitz), and it still won’t in the future.
Oh I forgot to mention Jeff Jarvis has an Entrepreneurial Journalism program running at CUNY. It proposes new business models for news. So actually, if you are very smart in this digital age, you may get away with being a professional and taking home a cheque worth boasting about.
It is your call whether to be a professional journalist or a citizen reporter. Eitherway, you still serve the good of the society, and that is all that matters. Better still, be like me and simply combine the two, mashing them all up in a lofty research article (pulling your legs) :p
I have a strong feeling this post is going to generate lots of reactions, and frankly, I am looking forward to it. Let’s roll – I’ll be on hand to respond.
The Media Junkie
Photo credits: Google Images