This past week, I had the opportunity to attend the 2011 AEJMC conference in St. Louis. Basically these conferences are a gathering of journalists, professors, and others who have some kind of footprint in the journalism and mass communication world. The main reason I attended was to present a research paper I did with a professor over the past year. The paper is called “Why your grandpa is on Facebook: A Survey of Uses and Gratifications of Facebook by Older Adults.” In simple terms, this study looked at why people over age 45 use Facebook. The main two reasons were for entertainment purposes (to play games) and for social interests (viewing others’ profiles).
The main point people should understand is that journalism is not “in trouble” – it’s changing. Whenever change occurs, some people panic. The status quo is no longer so and suddenly things are different. Get used to it, though. Sometimes change is for the better. Even though thousands of journalists have lost their jobs in recent years, other kinds of jobs are beginning to open up for them, especially in online media. Patch.com is a venture that comes to mind. Launched in December 2007, this website consists of hyperlocal pages devoted to news coverage in communities across the country. Each site has its own editor-in-chief along with a slew of freelance reporters. Perhaps many of these individuals once worked for “traditional” news organizations. In my view, Patch has become about as traditional as anything today.
So just remember that journalism is in flux. It may always be that way due to how quickly new technology takes hold. But once this constant change becomes normal, if it hasn’t already, most people will realize what the new definition of journalism really is.