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.