Worried is an Understatement

Just 11 days into the new year, my Twitter timeline was flooded with Bay Area journalists’ tweets—only this time it wasn’t because of lauded reporting or the announcement of a promotion.

The East Bay Express, a weekly print news publication based in Oakland, Calif., had just laid off its entire editorial staff.

Fast forward a few weeks, the journalism industry was left in tumble dry for the entire month of January as news of even more layoffs made the future of journalism sound bleaker.

Gannett, which owns the largest number of US newspapers, announced big staff cuts; Verizon axed Huffington Post’s entire opinion section and more; Vice cut 10 percent of its staff.

Buzzfeed announced 15% of its workforce jobless, wiping away its entire national news desk; the Dallas Morning News sent 43 employees home early—these layoffs amounted to what The Cut reported to be over 2,100 jobs in media gone, all in a matter of a few weeks.

January was tough, but even more so because of 2018’s horror stories, like when half of the New York Daily News staff was laid-off on a summer day.

But who’s to blame? In simple terms, wealthy media groups that suck up news organizations’ revenues by slashing costs in an attempt to increase profit, most times selfishly keeping it for themselves.

However, at the same time, aren’t there news publications that have survived? Maybe we should be looking at profitable business models like Texas Tribune’s?

To say the least, I’m worried.

As a freshman in college who first gained interest in reporting and telling community stories four years ago, when I noticed how infrequently my community is mentioned in the mainstream, I remember making a spreadsheet of internships I could apply to after graduation when I was a junior in high school.

I remember applying to various journalism programs and imagining what a future doing journalism would look like.

More importantly, I found joy in telling stories very early in my adolescence.

I felt happy making people feel heard. And the most rewarding part was that the change I tried to make—whether it was giving voice to a community concern or bringing light to an underrepresented story—that change first affected me internally within my own mind and my own heart.

In lieu of the current climate of the journalism industry, worried is an understatement. I’m fearful that following my college graduation, I’ll attempt to enter the journalism industry and be sent home early within the first few years of my career. I know people who have already experienced that. It sucks.

Yet, despite discouragement from many around me to pursue a career in journalism and the bleak job crisis in the industry, I still want to get into news.

And my reason is simply an echo you’ll hear in newsrooms across America: there are stories that need to be told. Sometimes they’re never told. Sometimes there are people who don’t want you to tell them. And many times, there are people who are waiting for someone to listen.

I just hope the industry will welcome newcomers like me in the future, so that we’re still able to tell those important stories.