Dear Journalism School student,
I read that you are questioning whether journalism is a worthy calling. You are considering public relations as an alternative, because you believe PR is the clearer path to the truth than the rocky road laid by some in the journalism profession.
There’s nothing wrong with PR – I made the transition from full-time journalism and have no regrets. But if I had to make the same decision today, I’m not sure I would leave the news business.
There has never been a more exciting time to be a journalist. The Internet has not only made your job easier, it has made your job more powerful. The new “consumer generated media” just scratches the surface of the sweeping changes and dynamic opportunities waiting for you, the first generation of journalists who will look at covering the news as a shared experience.
There has been a lot of bad news about news lately, enough doom and gloom to make PR or any other profession appear better than journalism. To be fair, there has been little shortage of bad PR industry news either. There are bad people, lame people, and ignorant people in every profession – neither journalism nor PR has a corner on that market.
But there are more quality journalists than poor, and I believe more better days ahead than behind. You’ve heard of Web 2.0? Well this is News 2.0, and you can be a major part of this collaborative experiment where news never ends; can be created by anyone in multiple ways; and can bring the world closer more quickly than at any other time in modern history.
And don’t go to boring SPJ events (I was president of the University of Missouri chapter, I was responsible for a few). Instead go to conferences like We Media, where the future of news, storytelling and sharing are on the menu, not stale leftovers like how to write the perfect inverted pyramid.
I’m sure you would make a fine PR person – but we don’t need more PR people, we need more reporters who think beyond the beat. We need more editors who take risks and embrace the unknown. We need more thinkers and leaders to make sure there is a News 3.0 someday.
Everyone is the media, but not everyone can be a journalist. This is your time, your decision, and your intentional future. Please, make it a good one.
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