The Future of Journalism and What It Means To Me

By: Teiah Palhetas 

Edited By: Constanza Leautaud Grajales

When envisioning the future of learning, the spotlight is often focused on the STEM fields, emphasizing disciplines like robotics and coding. Indeed, these fields are becoming increasingly relevant as advancing technology creates ultra-niche roles glorified in our bottom-line-oriented society. However, I’d argue that journalism is a paramount subject for nurturing a future of critical thinkers and creativity. 

During my sixth-grade year, my aversion to writing was clear. I loathed it. After expressing my discontent with an assignment, my teacher called me to his desk and asked, “Why don’t you enjoy writing?” I told him about the monotony, frustration, and sense of purposelessness I then associated with writing. The rigid prompts, lack of autonomy in topic selection, and mechanical editing process fueled my feelings. Writing solely for the teacher’s consumption and object judgment felt meaningless. 

The following day, my teacher proposed an idea to my peers and I: to create a class newspaper for our next English assignment. “We can write articles and even incorporate videos. You have the freedom to choose your topics,” he enthused. Initially resistant, I grumbled and protested, convinced it would be boring. However, a shift occurred two weeks later when my teacher invested his money to print our work on newsprint. In the ensuing weeks, the classroom dynamic evolved as we assumed greater ownership of our learning journey.

In retrospect, I realized that my aversion was not to writing itself, but to the contrived nature of academic writing. It was the act of writing within the confines of traditional schooling that I disliked. 

In discussions surrounding the future of learning, technology and engineering often take center stage. While I appreciate the focus on STEM, I can’t help but question whether we overlook the potential of journalism simply because it lacks novelty as a discipline. Journalism is a storied craft rather than a shiny new toy. When considering the essential skills for the future, I’ve noticed there is often an emphasis on technological competencies such as digital citizenship, media literacy, and creative thinking. Unfortunately, in my educational journey as a student, these skills are frequently taught in isolation, treated as separate fragments rather than integrated components. Journalism, rather, provides the necessary means to blend these elements for comprehensive communication. This prompts the fundamental question: What is journalism? And how do I define its significance? 

At its core, journalism revolves around the pursuit of truth, revered by those who value honesty and integrity. For me, journalism embodies a double perspective—the writer’s and the reader’s. The writer assumes the responsibility of gathering information, delving into narratives, and conducting interviews. They possess the freedom to adopt a stance on a topic or uphold impartiality, exercising creative autonomy. Additionally, the reader enjoys the privilege of forming opinions, interpreting content, and engaging in conversation. They can share their perspectives, dissent, or critique, contributing to a diverse and active dialogue. 

When writing an article, my intention is not to sway readers to align with my viewpoint but to present relevant information. Empowering readers to form their own conclusions. This freedom to disseminate passionate insights to a broader audience epitomizes the essence of good journalism. It creates dialogue, encourages diverse perspectives, and facilitates the circulation of new information. It’s fascinating that I’m engaged in both sides of journalism—as both a journalist and a reader. A committed journalist never stops reading and writing; it’s crucial to continuously hone our skills. This involves not only writing but also immersing oneself in the work of others. Observing how different writers craft their leads, employ ideas, or conclude their pieces offers invaluable insights for improving one’s craft and fostering continual growth as both a journalist and a learner. Mastering writing and journalism demands not just skill but also artistry. It requires the ability to present information engagingly while ensuring readers have the necessary information to form their opinions. Most importantly, it is to realize that it can never truly be perfect. There is always room for improvement and always space to learn. 

When I speak about the value of journalism, skeptics often raise the point that it is a dying industry, questioning the thought process of preparing for a profession that seems increasingly obsolete. Why would anyone pursue a career or passion that may have no use? Especially with AI becoming increasingly advanced. They have a point. Participating in something student-run when local newspapers are going out of business can sound unbelievable. However, I contend that journalism isn’t so much dying as it is evolving. The proliferation of professional bloggers, podcasters, and YouTubers underscores the enduring demand for skills integral to journalism. Despite not fitting the traditional mold of journalists, these individuals underscore the importance of cultivating journalistic thinking—skills such as investigative prowess, critical analysis, and clear communication are invaluable in various domains, from food blogging to political commentary. 

Yet, I wonder if the discourse around the death of journalism misses the mark. We continue to support activities like physical education, theatre programs, and chess clubs despite the improbability of participants pursuing professional careers in these fields. Why? Because these activities foster personal growth, cultivate different ways of thinking, and bring joy. Similarly, journalism serves as a platform for personal and intellectual development, offering a space for everyone to engage, learn, and contribute. 

For me, the most effective preparation for the future is empowerment in the present. Journalism embodies creative freedom, challenging me to make sense of the world as a critical thinker and communicate my insights to an authentic audience. 

References

Daniel, Will. “The CEO of a Giant Media Company Just Said A.I. Is Making Some Journalists Obsolete as He Plans Staff Cuts.” Fortune Europe, 1 Mar. 2023, fortune.com/europe/2023/03/01/will-ai-robots-take-jobs-journalism-axel-springer-ceo-mathias-dopfner/.

Image Citation: 

Pacres, Jeffrey James. “Writing.” Flickr, 9 Feb. 2009, www.flickr.com/photos/jjpacres/3293117576. Accessed 12 Mar. 2024.