Monday, December 11, 2006

Knowledge = power

Just like a lot of Penn State seniors out there, I’m getting ready to embark on the job search.

I know all the engineering and architecture majors out there are currently accepting positions and probably wondering why I would only be starting my search.

Well, things are different in journalism. Turnover rates are high for most reporting jobs and what’s available today probably won’t be available in May.

On top of that, I, along with all the other journalism majors, are going to be breaking into an industry in the middle of a serious crisis.

Readership is down as the public turns to the Internet more and more for news, newsroom layoffs are becoming commonplace across the country and family-owned newspapers are disappearing as only a few major companies buy up the industry.

To put it bluntly, I’ll be submitting resumes and going to job interviews for positions that might not exist in five years as they do now - if they exist at all. Though I’m optimistic though about my future as a journalist, I completely expect that a reporter 30 years from now will be doing tasks very different from those done by reporters today.

But I’m sure journalists will still be around and working for the same basic reasons they do the job today.

In a Dec. 8 column for the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis, Doug Grow wrote about why the negative effects of job cuts in the journalism industry extend into the communities newspapers serve.

Grow posed this question: "Why is a journalist's job more important than anyone else's?"

To answer the question, I’d have to first say that I don’t think a journalist’s job is the most important in the world. Doctors, politicians, generals…those are not roles to be taken lightly.

But the job of a journalist ranks high on the list because without the press all those doctors, politicians, generals, etc. wouldn’t have anyone checking up on them and looking for abuses of power.

When I arrived on the Collegian’s front steps as a naïve freshman, one of the first things I learned was this: Knowledge = power.

Those three words get pounded into your head by News Adviser John Harvey during your first semester as a Collegian staff member.

That’s why a journalist’s job is one of the most important.

We find information and give it to the public, so citizens can make informed decisions.

That’s called power, people.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Pick up the local rag

I’m going to take a break from my usual ranting and raving about the current state of relations between the media and the public.

While the Penn State student body prepares to take a few weeks off from the pressures and demands of life in college, I have just one request for you.

While you’re at home resting and relaxing, please do so with a newspaper in hand.

Take 35 cents out of your pocket and invest it by picking up a copy of your local "rag," wherever you live.

And in my favorite motivational format of all time, I’ll you why.

Here’s the Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Read Your Local Newspaper During Winter Break:

10. It’s the best way to see which of your old high school classmates are engaged to get married…and which ones are already set to divorce.

9. Wondering how your high school football team did this fall? I bet the local sports section will let you know.

8. One of the best ways to gauge how well the Collegian is serving your interests as a reader is to compare us to other local newspapers. Go ahead, measure us up.

7. It’s not required reading; you’d be doing it for personal enrichment. How often do we college students get to do that?

6. The newspaper industry is relying on how effectively it can grab the interest of young people like ourselves.

5. Local newspapers are always happy to run intellectual, persuasive and relevant letters to the editor on their editorial pages. Sounds like some of the skills you might have picked up along the way with a Penn State education.

4. You’ll need something to do once the inevitable boredom sets in on Dec. 29.

3. There might be an opportunity to learn how some of your local legislators are addressing issues important to young people, such as funding higher education and the future of Social Security.

2. Some of us are going to need to impress our parents with something after they see this semester’s grades.

1. You just might be surprised how much more interesting things like politics, government, education, environment and crime are to you now that you’re on the verge of entering the real world.

So there you have it, 10 reasons to read your local newspaper when you get home.

Just don’t forget to pick up the Collegian once you get back to State College on Jan. 16.