When people ask me what I’m majoring in, I tend to pause a heartbeat, a breath, before replying. I never know quite what the response will be when I explain that I want to be a journalist, and I can’t help but feel that in opening that door, I must prepare my defenses.
Not all the responses I receive are negative. Friends who know me well smile and nod like it was inevitable — my immense love for writing has defined me since grade school — and professors assure me that journalists, at the very least, tend to lead very interesting lives.
Some of the responses are cringeworthy, like the old men at the grocery store who look me up and down once, twice, before commenting that Fox News only hires blondes but that I’ll probably suffice, and who say women are pushing men out of the news industry. But it’s the people who scoff, who look away uncomfortably, who try to explain to me that I’m boarding a sinking ship, that journalism is dying if not dead, that irritate me the most.
Journalism is not dying. Journalism is not dead. Yes, print newspapers are not as ubiquitous as they were, but evolution is inevitable in every industry, and as print popularity has diminished, other modes of dissemination have emerged. Photojournalism, video journalism, online news … reporting certainly looks differently now than it did 20 years ago, but that does not mean it is any less important than it has ever been.
Journalists pride themselves on being the watchdogs, the investigators, the men and women who hold the higher-ups accountable. They are purveyors of information, writers with the sole purpose of bringing light to important issues and ensuring that the public has the facts it needs. Without journalism, we would be limited to receiving only the information deemed acceptable by each organization. The public would not be given the facts with which to make their own opinions, but instead would be fed censored, softened versions of the truth. As long as there are organizations pushing their own agendas, there will be a need for journalists to pursue the truth.
But more than that, though, journalism is about telling stories. More than safeguarding freedom and disseminating information, journalism is about finding and passing on the stories of people across the globe — stories of terror and suffering, as well as stories of ingenuity and survival and joy.
This practice, steeped in tradition, is vital to our global society. It is what connects us and binds us together as humans despite our differences and the distances between us. It is what reminds us that we are not alone, that there are people who deserve our attention and issues that matter and are greater than our personal desires. It offers us a community larger than our immediate sphere and helps us grow both as individuals and as a larger whole.
The world always has and always will need its storytellers. Tell me that there is no future in journalism, and I will show you a story that needs to be told.