Three big stories caught my attention recently:
Approaches such as the second and third may suffice, for a time, but the first requires something different altogether.
The news media is sometimes described as shaky and at a near crisis. These descriptions may reflect the undercurrent of the business, but not the craft or discipline.
Certainly new digital pseudo “news” sites are popping up like weeds. They’re launching because there’s advertising money to be made, or perhaps influence to be wielded. I find myself trying to keep current about content algorithms and grappling with phrases like “trust but verify.” Can we even count the number of popular online news aggregators? Oh, and by the way, my brother called; did you hear that news that Cousin Sally is divorced, and her husband is dating a former model? Our professional livelihood has even become a sloppy, gossipy noun!
Then there’s us. When I began my News Coach column years ago, this is how I introduced myself:
“Almost all of my clients are pre-wired with the minds and hearts of a journalist and a passion for impeccable writing. I too am an idealist geek who can’t help it- the need to know and to get it right has always been in my blood. It became serious in seventh grade- I was the sole writer/editor of the Doodyville News and Melanie was the illustrator.”
Sure, many of us are perceived as nerds. But that’s OK. We care about factual accuracy. The precision of language. The human condition. What befalls us. Where are we going? What makes us tick? It’s a never-ending quest, with questions begetting more questions. And then: you’re supposed to turn around a complete, comprehensive story for the next news window.
So, how can you thrive and find happiness- and ideally an accompanying paycheck- in the current landscape, when hard-hitting is often lumped in with gossip, opinion and disinformation? Easy! And that’s because we don’t have the choice of turning away. We’re hotwired to be journalists- and report.
Call me an optimist, but news stations, print and digital publications, and broadcast and digital journalists will slowly keep on bubbling to the top. (Just another reason not to feel obligated to shellac your information with overly histrionic deliveries.)
Here are some things to think about on your journey:
There’s more optimism-validating information about those of us who are “Born this way:” Journalism is up as a college major.
So chins up! Both hands on the wheel- but lightly enough to be responsive and nimble. I have faith that your service of journalism will be acknowledged- and appreciated- by increasingly higher numbers and wider demographics.
News consultant Joanne Stevens has written extensively about broadcast writing, reporting and anchoring, including columns in the former print version of RTDNA's Communicator Magazine, and earlier versions of the RTDNA website. She has taught at Columbia and New York University and serves as a news award judge for the New York Press Club. She has returned to RTDNA.org to offer a new series of News Coach columns with tips, best practices and more. - Click on the RTDNA logo below to learn more.