A local journalist, interviewing me earlier this week for a story about iPad’s place in journalism, asked me a question I’ve received now dozens of times. It was about the “death of journalism.”
He is an excellent young journalist. But the question has come to rub me the wrong way. Because some newspaper journalists, and, to a greater extent, the parents of prospective college journalism students, believe journalism and newspapers are synonymous.
They are not. Journalism 5,000 years ago was done by word of mouth. For most of the last 500 years, it’s been done through newspapers. Presently, journalism is done via word of mouth; the Internet; magazines; newspapers; radio; mobile communications (phones, PDAs and tablets); cable TV; cameras; and, every once in a great while, local TV news.
Journalism is not dying. Journalism is evolving. It’s always evolving.
I always use a transportation analogy. Did transportation “die” when steamboats became less practical? Or did it evolve into cars and airplanes?
One last point: newspapers aren’t dying either, at least not anytime soon. They’re also evolving, particularly those that are learning to re-evaluate their goals, their ROI, and their methods.
Media love to report their own demise, but I wonder how much of it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s much easier to cry that the ship is sinking than find the strength to swim to safety.
Find Dave Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.