Harvard Crimson Staffers Avoiding Journalism Upon Graduation

The media and blogosphere have picked up on and overexuberantly parsed recent news that a majority of the graduating seniors sitting on The Harvard Crimson‘s executive board are NOT looking to pursue a journalism career.  Their collective decision is seemingly being heralded as yet one more small-scale sign that the journalism apocalypse is upon us.  

For example, read this blather from Bloomberg: “The Harvard Crimson has produced 12 Pulitzer Prize winners and prepared generations of journalists for newspaper careers during its 136 years.  That wellspring of talent is drying up as the paper’s editors now shun the field.”

That statement needs a cinematic soundtrack!  First, writing that the “wellspring of talent is drying up” based on the decisions of a mere 13 editors in a single year is more overblown than the current “Star Trek” hype.  Also, while of course it is each student editor’s decision, you can in no way put them in the active or evil villain role here.  This is not an action they are taking.  It is a reaction.  Journalism is shunning them.  There are less jobs, less promise of a fulfilling CAREER, and just in general an industry-wide we-have-no-clue-what-the-heck-is-going-to-happen-itis.

The Crimson eds. are pragmatists.  A few are opting for law school or grad school and a few others are jumping into Teach for America.  Heck, maybe a few even still want to be journos and are hoping the print-new media-economic fight will be settled during their few years away getting a master’s or volunteering.  A few others will probably continue to impact journalism, just through non-full-time gigs freelancing or blogging.

Just overall, this is NOT a sign of the j-apocalypse.  It’s a sign of the current economic, print-in-flux times.  Let’s also not forget: J-school enrollment is still climbing.  I previously passed along my top reasons for why this phenomenon exists.  Here’s one more, by a Poynter Institute rep, who notes that it may be because such a career path is now UNpragmatic: “To some young people, the turbulence itself is interesting, rather than off-putting.  We’re going through a period of reinvention and they want to be part of that.”

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