School’s (not) out for summer

Pink Floyd couldn’t have done this one justice.

I’m back to school, taking what is probably the most important journalism class, media law. In order to be editor-in-chief there wasn’t much of an option for me but to take that class during the four week session. And from everyone I have talked to, including teachers, advisers and students, it’s the hardest J-school class out there. So I’m glad to be squeezing all that work into four weeks.

While learning some of the most important facets of journalism, I will be working as a professional photographer for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Sure, I am an intern, but I will be listed as staff when my photos print and be in full-time staff rotation for assignments.

Sean Blanda made a great point in that journalism students are among the few who have to produce the exact product that they are studying long before they ever get their degree. This is bizarre when you think about it. Would you want the doc going down to surgery before he’s certified? No? Well journalism is just as important to society as a doctorate and scalpel can be to healthy surgery. Journalism interns are not eased into situations. It is sink or swim.

Maybe that’s just because the business of journalism thinks of itself to be failing at such a rate that it is making it necessary for students to go in headfirst. It’s (usually) free work for the professionals involved, and most certainly poorer quality than a professional reporter/photographer could produce. So really, it’s this perpetual cycle that may eventually speed up this “death of journalism” that I keep hearing about but am not convinced of.

I believe that print newspapers are dying. I just don’t see that journalism is making a lot of progress. Multimedia isn’t new, it’s just documentary work. Documentaries have been made for years, it’s just that newspapers are trying to cheapen that product too by making it entertaining enough to watch but long enough to drive up their time-on-site.

I read a funny piece in the Onion yesterday thanks to A Photo A Day. The headline is “Dying Newspaper Trend Buys Nation’s Newspapers Three More Weeks.” It’s true in a way. Some sites are getting enough attention to be making more money than any newspaper just by writing about the death of newspapers and how to save them.

The Onion is right, it is becoming a newspaper’s business within itself. The focus of how to fix things has become as much the focus as journalism. That can’t be right. But how do you go about fixing things without even having enough staff to properly put out the news? Local newspapers are starting to see letters-to-the-editor about not being able to cover great events. It’s events they would have covered had they not seen 30 percent cuts in their staff.

Journalism? Dying? No. There is a need. As long as we are a democracy there will be a need. The watchdog must live on. But until somebody figures out how keep this dog fed we’re all in the doghouse.

Between the lines:
With Mary Margaret likely moving back to Louisville and me here all summer, starting class, a full time internship and being editor-in-chief next year, we wanted to hang yesterday. We drove out to the Red River Gorge and Natural Bridge and had a great day just being around each other. No agenda. No doing what our friends want. Just us.



2 Responses to “School’s (not) out for summer”

  1. alliegee Says:

    Love the last photo. Miss you both.

    And good points about journalism. I just read that the HL is offering buyouts to a small percentage of its employees. Just a few weeks ago the LA Times ran the same article regarding their paper. It’s happening.

  2. lenscapremoved Says:

    I was at the H-L yesterday and talked to a few staffers about the buy out. It’s happening but it’s happening to print. Until someone figures out how to make this work on the web and print, print can kiss itself goodbye.

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