Why Should Students Still Study Journalism Given the Sorry State of the News Industry? Here is the Perfect Answer via 1 Chart & a 90-Second Clip

I am often asked to defend the very existence of journalism education. If you’re reading this, you most likely know exactly what I mean — either because you have been asked to do the same thing or because you are the one doing the asking.

To be clear, nowadays, it’s an extremely fair, and even needed, question. After all, the industry as a whole — and especially its local news backbone — is cutting losses and shedding jobs at a sadly prodigious rate. At the same time, students (and their families) are spending insane amounts and piling up gigantic debt in pursuit of a higher education degree. As a parent pessimistic about his son’s journalism interest once put it to me, “It’s a heap of money we don’t really have for a career I’m not confident will be waiting for him.” (He then asked if I could autograph a copy of my textbook, a request so weirdly timed I actually laughed, thinking he was joking.)

I have my own version of a serious defense to this question/concern, which, yes, I can recite with sincere (guarded) optimism. As my loyal readers know, it’s also a question I often ask the student journalists, professors and professionals I interview — in part simply to see if my own spirited rallying cry is still at least marginally on point and in line with the thinking of others across the journalism education spectrum.

I recently came across two additional showings of support for this defense. The first is featured in a massive — and massively significant — new survey conducted by the American Press Institute. It’s only been out a few days, but anyone even remotely geeky about journalism has surely at least pretended to read some of it by now.

Above and beyond its many other fascinating findings, the one that has proven most newsworthy and of interest to me: A surprisingly high percentage of professionals who graduated over the past decade from U.S. journalism schools consider themselves journalists today — even those who work in industries and jobs that may on spec seem unrelated or only slightly related to the old school notion of journalism.

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I’ll spare you the pablum and cut right to the heart of that awesomeness: Journalism is not confined to a single field in the 21st century. And it is surely not confined to a particular set of job titles or type of work. The former j-students now impacting all corners of commerce, politics, the law, education, technology and media are telling us one thing loudly and collectively: The skills and knowledge they gleaned from their j-education is still so strongly embedded within them that, even beyond what their industry or position descriptions may say, at their core they know they are journalists.

I’ll put it another way: Journalism, more than ever, is now everywhere, impacting the way the world is shaped and seen, inside and out.

And the key here is the education component. Because in a world in which everyone can be journalists, or at least say they are, it will be those with the real journalistic training and knowledge who will rise above and be recognized and (hopefully) over time financially rewarded.

This is at the heart of a brief aside made by Sree Sreenivasan during a talk this summer to kick off CUNY’s annual Social Media Weekend. I’ve embedded the YouTube video below to start at the exact spot he dives into his “why journalism” spiel.

“Journalism is not dying. Journalism is more robust than ever before.”

Sree Sreenivasan ~

Why journalism? According to Sreenivasan, the chief digital officer at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and former longtime faculty member at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, there is more journalism being produced on more outlets and in more ways for more interested people than ever before. The business side is in flux, to be sure, like so many industries in this age of transition. But that is only a current problem needing a long-term solution, not a reason to turn away from an education and life centered on meaningful content creation, storytelling, sharing and engaging.

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