Maybe I have just learned to ignore the depressing news of the thousands of layoffs at newspapers and other news organizations across the nation and begun to pay more attention to the bright spots in journalism. There are journalism jobs being created what seems like every day.
The advice I have given to myself constantly, and will offer it to anyone that loves storytelling: If you truly want to be a journalist, you will find a way. But if you are one of those reporters or editors dwelling on the “glory days” of newspapers and keep a constant eye on sites like the Newspaper Death Watch or the Journalism is Dead site from Mark Luckie and is a collection of funny quotes on why journalism is dead, then someone needs to scream in your ear and tell you that things have changed. They are going to keep changing. But I am simply more optimistic (and can afford to be – I know things change when you have a mortgage and kids to feed, etc.). Here are a few reasons why I am optimistic:
- Hiring: Talking Points Memo hopes to increase its 11 employees to 60 in the next three years, after receiving investment funding from Marc Andreessen, New York Times columnist Noam Cohen reports.
- More Hiring: As early as yesterday, I read about the local-Minnesota online news start-up Minnpost.com hiring another writer for the Daily Glean. It made me simply realize that as the bigger news organizations fold, other smaller organizations will fill their space – and do it gladly. Of course this is a small example, but worth mentioning. Minnpost’s 10,000th post:
- Entrepreneurship: With big layoffs come opportunities. Journalists are being called to be more entrepreneurial and innovative than ever. A good example is the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which ceased publishing its print edition this spring and kept only 20 online staff writers to maintain its website. Last week, former staffers from the paper launched a nonprofit news organization, InvestigateWest, that will focus on producing funded investigative journalism and selling it to news organizations in the region. The organization has laid out a budget of $1.35 million for its first year.
- Advertising recovering: Earlier today the Associated Press reported that the slump in advertising revenue would slow to a decline of 2 percent next year after an estimated 14.5 percent slump for this year. The worst seems to be over. Local broadcast, national cable TV ads, online and outdoor are expected to show growth, Magna, the advertising forecaster said. However, overall growth is not expected until the second half of 2011, the group said.
- Big papers didn’t do that bad until this year. As David Brauer of Minnpost blogged, papers with a circulation of 80,000+ had an average profit margin of 12 percent in 2008. That’s not bad at all. Other category papers did worse, see the full Inland Press Association report. The point is, certain markets may be better off in the future. Even some markets had a large growth in classified revenue, like that of a paper with a circulation of 15,000 in the West posting 210 percent increase in classified revenue from 2004-2008. Let’s not get to excited, but such trends are worth examining.
I am sure there are other examples (please include them in the comments). The point is organizations are fading, but journalism in different forms is thriving more than ever. What we are witnessing isn’t the death of a journalism, but a renaissance. It is evolving and being reborn into something quite extraordinary. Something even the greatest journalism minds could not have imagined during the golden age of newspapers.