Don’t Let Layoffs Deter You from Journalism

By Erica A. Hernandez

During the last two weeks of January about 1,000 jobs in media lost as the result of layoffs announced at BuzzFeed, HuffPost and Gannett — the nation’s largest newspaper chain.

Let that sink in for a minute.

As someone currently working in media, this scares me. As a student journalist, hopeful to make a living as a journalist one day, I’d be scared too. But we shouldn’t be.

Journalism will always exist. I’m confident in that. As a journalist who worries for the future of my industry, I know that the best thing I can do is encourage and recruit the next generation of storytellers and protectors of truth and transparency.

So instead of listing all the facts and figures you’ve probably already heard from anyone trying to discourage you from pursuing a journalism degree, I’m going to tell you the reasons you should.

For starters, you’re needed. Journalism is crucial to a functioning democracy. Free speech and freedom of the press are a part of our constitution. As journalists, it’s our job to inform the public so they can use their free will to make informed decisions that impact all parts of their lives — from deciding what to wear to deciding who to vote for. It’s a crucial job and it’s clear that our country would not be able to function without this service.

If you’re reading this, it’s likely because you’re involved in some form of scholastic journalism. Which leads me to believe journalism is something you’re passionate about. When you envision what you’ll spend most of the days of your life doing, it’s important to think of what sparks joy in your life now. What assignments are the first you tackle? Do deadlines stress you out or energize you? Do you take pride in accurately informing your peers? Take some time to explore these thought and see where they lead you.

As a millenial entering any given newsroom, I’ve been met with a small unspoken expectation that I’m the “young kid here to save journalism with technology and social media.” I’m not here to put that pressure on you because I don’t think a single person or even small group of people can “save journalism.” Journalism needs to undergo a rebranding. People need to stop assuming they can and should be able to get true journalism for free and digital advertising needs to meet our audiences where they are. That’s a small to-do list in the grand scheme of things, and these are not issues any of us will solve tomorrow. But to even get to any of these issues, the important daily work of reporting the news needs to keep happening.

All this to say, I hope the 1,000 journalists who were laid off in January don’t leave the field. And I hope you don’t turn to another potential profession in the wake of these alarming industry changes. There will always be stories to tell and news to report — so there will always be journalism.

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