My journalist friend Dan, who teaches part-time at Western University, tells his students something very wise. He says, I can’t teach you how to use what’s next in journalism, because it hasn’t been invented yet.
Years ago, who would have thought Twitter and Facebook would become more important media outlets than radio, TV and newspapers, to a whole new generation?
Perhaps you read that Postmedia is consolidating its workforce into regional newsrooms across the country. And what’s worse, it owns all but five major Canadian newspapers now. This means you’ll get one paper-journalist version of a story across the country, instead of many coming from separate reporters. If that person gets it wrong, it has a lot of influence. If they’re biased, same thing.
Camera people, or “shooters” as they’re known, are no longer employed by most major television companies. They’ve been laid off while on-air people are now responsible for shooting their own stuff, not only concerned with the accuracy of their content but the look of their video.
It was pointed out to me last week that my job used to be four jobs.
Perhaps efficiencies needed to be found and some of this consolidation was necessary. But it’s really out of control now, with shareholders’ returns deemed much more more valuable than the product.
Rogers is deleting 200 positions in the coming days. Bell got rid of more than 700 last year. The Guelph Mercury ceased publication. Today, my colleague is doing a panel-style talk show on what will happen when The London Free Press shuts down. I’m told it has less than a quarter of the subscribers it had a decade ago.
Last week the CRTC in Ottawa was advised by a consulting firm’s report that by 2020, half of the country’s TV stations could be off the air. Maybe we don’t need them all. Maybe some of them shouldn’t survive and I’ve never believed in artificially propping up companies with government intervention. But it’s a terrible time for the news business and for media in general in Canada. So if you hear a kid say they’re dreaming about becoming a journalist, steer them away from traditional media, won’t you? Tell them about the Diplys and Buzzfeeds and Mashables of the world and it will put them in a better position to see what’s coming next.