I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the future. Mostly, in part, because mine seems to be approaching quicker than I would like for it to.
In exactly 31 days upon the date of writing this, I will walk into my last first day of school. And in roughly nine months I will walk across a stage to get a piece of paper saying I, Taylor Dixon, am qualified to go out into the wild to be a journalist.
But then what? Hopefully I will have a job lined up at that point and hopefully within the year I will be able to afford my own puppy. Aside from those small requests, though, I have no idea.
This is also a time that the journalism industry is probably thinking the same thing. Or that’s how it seems anyway, because before the pandemic, print news was already seeing a decline. Now, according to a study done by the Poynter Institute, COVID has closed over 70 newsrooms across the country, and in Indiana, 13 newsrooms have shut down over the past year.
So to say I’m cautiously optimistic would be an understatement. Then I remember Juli Metzer, the Hoosier State Press Association summer advisor, saying at the beginning of summer training if you want a job in this industry there is one for you. Journalism is changing and while that seems scary it provides new opportunities for those willing to look for them.
Taking that into consideration, maybe we do have a chance. In high school someone once told me that my generation, somewhere between Gen Z and Millennial, will have jobs that haven’t been invented yet. This was always hard for me to wrap my head around, but when I pick up my phone to read the New York Times on an app and see IndyStar updates on Instagram I wonder how far fetched that really is.
A 2018 study done by the Pew Research Center, over half of adult Americans, 53%, get their news from social media. Twenty years ago Twitter was not a thing, and now it is used by journalists to live tweet Olympic events in real time. Five years ago Tik Tok hadn’t even been heard of as a social media app, let alone a place to find news. Now one of my favorite reporters, Sophia Smith Galer from BBC, got her fame on the platform.
That doesn’t mean we can simply replace print news with digital media, though. There is still 47% of the population that doesn’t get their news from social media. In fact I recently interviewed a lady for the Journal Review who told me she is dedicated to reading the paper cover to cover and makes sure to always complete the Sudoku puzzles. So while there are still people like her, there has to be a need for papers like this.
So until all papers shut down, which will likely not be anytime soon, reporters like Nick Hedrick and Jared McMurry and Editor Tina McGrady will continue to show up to school board meetings and high school football games and spend time putting this paper together to best serve this pretty cool community.
And while I can’t even begin to answer the question of, “now what?” for journalism and print news across the country, I can at least attempt to answer it for myself. For now I will enjoy my last few weeks before I go back to Franklin College, get through my last ever golf season, subsequently try not to cry because it is my last ever golf season, attempt a class in fiction writing and hope for the best.
Taylor Dixon is a rising senior at Franklin College and a Hoosier State Press Association intern working for the Journal Review.