I think the most important thing I have learned in this class is to not be afraid of the future. As a journalist with a love for newspapers and a huge amount of nostalgia for the paper industry, it’s hard for me not to look to the past. There’s nothing quite like holding that bundle of information in your hand. And there’s nothing like seeing your name printed in a byline.
That being said, it’s impossible to stay in the past. I’m a 21-year-old who can’t imagine life without the Internet and who loves to scroll through social media several times a day. The world is changing rapidly and so is the way people receive the news. Although I think the newspaper industry isn’t quite finished yet, I see the value of learning new digital platforms and being ready for the technology ahead. We’ve got to be ready for anything, ready to adapt with our audience.
Also, there is such value in the Internet with its ability to reach billions of people, despite location, language or socioeconomic status. If our job is to inform the public, how could we not invest time and resources in a digital platform? And it’s the same with social media. We can create and maintain relationships from thousands of miles away. For people in the news business, there is unprecedented importance in human interaction. Who are journalists without the people they serve?
So, I learned that it is okay. It’s okay to feel nostalgia for the past. But it’s okay to feel excitement for the future. We shouldn’t be afraid of the new platforms which seem to be replacing the old ones. The Internet and social media are both incredible gifts and should be treated as such. Journalists have been changing the world for centuries with mere paper and ink. Just imagine what we can do with the technology we possess now.
Our generation is going to change the world. As a wise professor once said, be creative. Be innovative. We shouldn’t be afraid to embrace the tools we have and dare to create new ones. That’s what will carry us into the coming decades. That’s what will make us better journalists.
Our class is coming to a close, and as I was considering a topic for the last mass media blog post, I couldn’t help but revert back to my first love: newspapers. It’s no secret that I think newspapers have some life left and are still a vital part of society. There’s nothing quite like page after page of quality, honest and objective news. But what about that page toward the back…the one place where opinion is allowed and readily welcomed? And not to mention the page with some of the greatest potential to make a difference in a community.
I’ve got a love-hate relationship with the editorial page. Yes, I think it deserves to be in the newspaper. A paper is an entity of the community and supposed to be the voice of its readers. Sometimes that voice needs to take a stand for the community. Also, from a personal reader’s perspective, the letters to the editor can be quite entertaining.
But I firmly believe the editorial page should be limited to just that–a page. Readers have grown accustomed to the set-up of an editorial, but it still has no place in the rest of the regular newspaper. The occasional front-page editorial is edgy and attention-grabbing, but it should be a rare occurrence. Otherwise, the paper will become more like propaganda and less like a service to society. Writers’ main task should be to keep opinions to themselves.
But despite all that, there are four things which I think are necessary (in my 21-year-old opinion) for a good editorial and help justify its spot in the paper.
1. The editorial should be consistent with one another and reflect a coherent opinion of the paper. This is kind of a no-brainer. If you bounce back and forth between sides of an issue, it leaves readers questioning your credibility and the paper’s ability to bring dependable ideas to a community debate. It’s not the writer’s opinion; it’s the paper’s.
2. The editorial should be relevant to the community. Leave the national debate pieces to The New York Times. You’ve got to make it worth your readers’ time. If you want to write about Ferguson, don’t just parrot what everyone else has said. Make it relate. Maybe there are issues of race relations in your city or maybe you want to call upon your local police department to invest in body cameras. What does this issue mean for your community?
3. The editorial should be about an important issue and one that has the potential to evoke change. This goes along with #2. Writing about trivial issues is just a waste of space. The editorial page is meant to support the core conversations of democracy, so don’t waste inches on a subject no one cares about. Writing opinion pieces is a strict duty and yet another way to serve the community.
4. The editorial shouldn’t be ridiculous. A good opinion writer has the ability to add new insight to a popular debate, to add another facet to the conversation. But if a paper suggests a solution so implausible in the name of “being different” that it fails to help the situation, then it has failed its community. You’ll have a train wreck of all four points. No dependability/credibility, no relevance, no power to evoke change…and eventually no more readers.