Spoke to the son of a long-time family friend. He's a senior journalism student at one of our state's fine universities.
He's worried about the job market. He's afraid he's wasted four years and tanked too much of his parents' money on a degree that has no guarantee to land him a job when he wraps up his last year of schooling.
There's no ironclad, set-in-stone guarantee for many of us in the industry these days. Too many good journalists have already been displaced by the rounds of layoffs and furloughs and buyouts that are sweeping our nation's newsrooms. And until this recession loosens its grip on our minds and wallets, there's no gleaming hope that this is going to end any time soon. But as much as we'd like to blame all of this on the recession, the decline of the newspaper industry that is, we simply cannot.
Fewer folks read newspapers because they have access to the Internet. That's no surprise, or at least it shouldn't be. Newspapers have dabbled with the digital realm that is the Internet. Some have come a long way, others have resisted the change. But the newspapers in this country that will be operating in 50 years will be doing so with a strong online presence. The day will come when a "newspaper's" strongest product will be its online offerings.
Before we got too involved in conversation about his fears, I asked him a few things. We'll call it research.
Q: Aside from your normal hygiene routine, what was the first thing you did this morning?
A: Checked my e-mail.
Q: Then what?
A: Checked my Facebook.
Q: Then what?
A: Looked up what new movies were coming to the theater this weekend.
Q: So your computer is your main source of information?
A: Yeah, but I did all of that on my phone.
Then I went on to ask him if he was familiar with Twitter. He was. He follows friends, a professor or two, a few comedians and a New York Times technology writer. So he Twitters, too.
So this is a typical, modern youth we're talking about. He's connected to a digital community that reaches far beyond the boundaries of the small Southern rural area he calls home. It's a community that never takes a break, offers any information a consumer could possibly want and, more often than not, it's free.
His fears are warranted. The industry is changing every day, and journalists who have been in the business for decades are still learning new technologies to remain relevant in this constantly changing environment. But it is change for the better.
The evolution of journalism and the newspaper industry is good because it involves you, the consumer, in the process.
Here at the Log Cabin, we're taking the appropriate steps to allow you more control and say in what we're doing. Our new Web site, which we're proud to say is launching very soon, is going to put that control at your fingertips. Waiting for the story in tomorrow's paper or tomorrow's Web version is a thing of the past. Information will be posted throughout the day, and night. But it will be more than a newspaper Web site. It will offer news, of course, but the content won't stop there. There will be information on a plethora of topics. If the topic your interested in can't be found, we'll let you bring it up.
So we're all changing in the industry. There's no way to avoid it. But that's the way it goes with everything. We learn every day.
There was only one guarantee to offer him. It was the one thing that hasn't changed in journalism -- and won't. To make it in this business, it has to be in your blood. If it's in his blood, he'll make it.