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Denver Post lobby – Courtesy of Jake Pemberton

Over the years, traditional media has been experiencing a decline in audience, revenue, and sense of importance. The rise of the digital world, such as the Internet and social media, can take most of the responsibility for such a decline. Nowadays, consumers are one click away from accessing any and all information with the touch of a finger, which discourages those to continue getting information for a price. Due to the recent decline of traditional media, critics and journalism professionals have described the journalism industry as “dying”.

Despite the negative perspective of the industry’s future, journalism students of the University of Denver interviewed for this story say they are still optimistic about their lives post-graduation.

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“People crave the news. They feel lost if they don’t know what is going on” – Zoe Roswold

As of today, the print media industry could identify itself as in a recession, especially among newspaper agencies. The Pew Research Center released data of the journalism and media world today, indicating the decline. In 2015, weekday circulation of newspapers fell 7 percent, while Sunday circulation fell 4 percent, which happened to be the greatest decline over the previous five years. This drop of readership, along with changes in the economy and declining revenue streams, encouraged significant lay-offs, resulting in a 10 percent decrease of newsroom employment in 2015.

A junior at the University of Denver, Zoe Roswold, who studies journalism and biology, plans to use her journalism degree as an entry into broadcast journalism post-graduation. The journalism student’s perspective of the journalism industry is simple, yet optimistic and progressive. While society discusses whether journalism is indeed dying, Roswold understands that it is only shifting, providing different opportunities rather than fewer.

“To my knowledge there is plenty of work to be had,” Roswold said. “But most of it is now being taken on by bloggers and unofficial journalists.”

Roswold continued to explain how even she finds it difficult to read the news through traditional media, and hints at all the levels and ways consumers can access information today. Despite being worried about finding a career in journalism after graduating, Roswold believes the industry is here to stay.

“Although the authenticity of journalism seems to be fading, journalism as a whole doesn’t seem to be dying,” said Roswold. “There is always some sort of news and a need for it to be shared.”

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The Denver Post near Capitol Hill – Courtesy of Jake Pemberton

While newspapers are fighting to stay above water, news magazines have been experiencing a smoother transition to digital news outlets. Pew Research notes that since 2011, sales of single copies of print news magazines have been slowly declining, although subscriptions have remained stable. In contrast, sales of digital copies as well as digital subscriptions have been and continue to rise. New York Magazine had 64 percent growth of digital sales in 2015; Rolling Stone magazine saw a 35 percent growth; Vanity Fair and Time each had growths of 30 percent in digital single copies.

Among the skeptics of the journalism field is Fred Brown, a media consultant and adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Denver. Brown majored in journalism at Colorado State University, and has a master of science in journalism from Northwestern University. He was a full-time journalist at the Denver Post for 40 years, and continued to write a column for the Post for 10 years before retiring. Brown compares his experience as a journalist to the uncertainties journalists and newsrooms face today.

“It’s not nearly as promising today to seek a career in journalism as it was when I was in that position,” Brown said. “There are unquestionably fewer jobs available for traditional journalism.”

Brown attributes the downsizing of traditional media to the Internet and how it took away advertising revenue, then accelerated by the rise of “citizen journalists” providing free information to consumers. When asked how he would feel as a journalism student in present day, about to graduate, Brown was pessimistic.

“I’d be nervous, very nervous,” said Brown.

The declination of advertising revenue Brown refers to is supported by data presented by Pew Research, which discusses the 8 percent drop of ad revenue in print and digital. The stable decrease of revenue from advertisements over the years helped result in “400 cuts, buyouts or layoffs” last year. The turmoil of print media was exposed even more when the Rocky Mountain Newspaper printed its final edition in 2009. Journalists and staff who were working at The Rocky for decades had been left unemployed, with skills that continue to become less prevalent.

(CM) FREDBROWN_1 Fred Brown on Wednesday, September 19, 2007. Denver Post staff¤columnists mugs Cyrus McCrimmon / The Denver Post

“Traditional journalism faces more challenges than ever” – Fred Brown

Even the major newspapers are experiencing a discouraging economy. The New York Times, a

renowned and respected news agency, was forced to reconsider their business plan multiple times in attempt to stay relevant. For years The Times fought backlash and losses of consumers, only to eventually welcome the digital world of news.

Although data of the media industry points to a declining field, there are those who can see the silver lining. Amid the pessimistic attitudes towards journalism and the future it entails for students stands Justin Cygan, a journalism major at the University of Denver and staff-writer for The Clarion. Cygan remains encouraged to obtain his aspired career of writing professionally, and expresses his optimism towards students’ futures in the journalism industry.

“I’m not worried about not getting a career,” Cygan said. “I still think you could still have a good career as a journalist, and I could have a good career.”

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The Clarion newspaper stand – Courtesy of Jake Pemberton

The journalism major who loves telling stories believes journalism to be “bigger than it’s ever been”, and that the issue is that people are not used to what journalism is right now. Cygan attributes the pessimism to the people who have been in the newspaper industry for a long time, and understands the worrisome over the change of the media platform from print to digital. However, Cygan does share some of the pessimism surrounding the print industry.

“You don’t have a guaranteed job at all after you graduate. Journalism is based a lot on talent, so sometimes there’s going to be someone better at writing than you,” Cygan said.

Cygan’s minimal skepticism has encouraged him to acquire a second major of international studies, and he has a prepared a back-up plan if the journalism goal does not work out.

Those who are worried for the journalism and media industry understand that among the turmoil of newspapers, there is the silver lining of opportunities to write online. Whether this will bring good or more declination, Brown can only speculate.

“I think more opportunities are going to be online instead of old time print,” said Brown. “But we can’t get as much information in 140 characters.”

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“People don’t realize how much they consume that’s written by actual journalists” – Justin Cygan

Among the students at DU, there is a sense of optimism for journalists. They are excited to embrace the transformation of traditional media to digital news, encouraged that it will only bring about different possibilities for young writers. Paired with the optimism is an answer to the skeptics who discuss the death of journalism:

“It’s not dying,” said Cygan. “It’s changing.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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