As 2022 journalism grads enter local newsrooms, they are considering the industry’s future and the most effective methods to reach people.
University of Mississippi graduate Madeline Quon started thinking deeply about what it will take to keep local newspapers alive while she was still in school.
“I actually wrote my senior thesis about the digital transition of a local paper in Arkansas,” Quon said. “The paper realized they were losing money in terms of ad revenue because more people were selling ads to companies such as Google or Facebook, and the publisher of the paper realized the best thing to do was release an e-edition of the paper, as well as gifting subscribers with iPads to access this e-edition.”
According to Quon, the paper’s experiment proved to be a success and other papers took note, including The Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina, where Quon will soon be working. She seems more than comfortable forgoing the traditional paper and ink in favor of survival.
“In a technology-driven world, the digital transition is what journalism needs to not only adapt, but also succeed,” Quon said.
And it’s no different for those going into television news. Taylor Tucker, a weekend anchor at WTVA in Tupelo, Mississippi who just earned her master’s degree in journalism, observed during her job search that many TV news directors were recruiting people to work with digital streaming channels to appeal to those who want broadcast journalism accessible through digital platforms.
According to Statista, 78% of U.S. consumers subscribe to a streaming service, and Tucker notes that broadcast news organizations want to capture audiences there as well as on cable or over the air.
But audience habits are evolving in other ways, too. Eliza Noe, a 2021 graduate, and reporter for Summit Daily News in Summit County, Colorado, thinks the future will see the range of topics journalists report on change.
“I also think environmental reporting is taking up a lot more space in the journalism world- especially in Colorado,” Noe said. “We’re seeing the effects of climate change on the recreational side, so a lot of readers are tuning into those issues.”
Grace Temple, a journalism grad taking the summer off before pursuing her career as a multimedia journalist, sees another big shift coming.
“As a recent graduate, I believe the industry in journalism will see a change in who is doing the reporting and how an organization reports information,” Temple said. “A more diverse and younger generation of journalists is now coming into the field.”
In fact, there has been intense discussion in the industry about the need for a more diverse workforce, and some outlets report making progress, Of course, audiences are becoming more diverse, too, and their news consumption habits continue to evolve, as well. Dayna Drake, a newly employed newscast producer at WCSC in Charleston, South Carolina, says journalists need to understand their audiences’ habits more fully in the future.
“Readers may be consuming their news on their way to work at a red light, and they don’t have time to read through an entire article to get the important facts,” Drake said.
That puts more pressure on journalists to continue providing their audiences with objective and accurate reporting on deadlines.
“The audience is going to soak in whatever news is given to them, and that needs to be a fair and unbiased report,” Drake said.
These young journalists are entering an industry in flux, but they remain optimistic about journalism’s future.