Fairbanks journalists weigh in on the future of journalism

Cordero Reid/Sun Star Reporter
May 7, 2013

Newspaper reporters were recently ranked as having the worst job in 2013, outranking lumberjacks and janitors by CareerCast.com.

“I don’t find the results to be a complete surprise, as CareerCast themselves pointed out, newspaper reporters have worked long hours in high stress situations and for little money for years,” said Journalism Professor Lynne Lott.

“The things that CareerCast doesn’t take into account, criteria such as personal fulfillment and satisfaction, the fact that reporters can expose wrongdoing at government and corporate levels, shed light on social problems and tell inspiring stories make the last-place rating a bit misguided, I think,” said Lott. “There are many ways to measure job satisfaction.”

“In some ways, this is an exciting time for news. People are trying out new reporting techniques, new methods of delivery. Stories break on Twitter or Facebook,” Lott said. With real time social media websites like Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit publications have a hard time. During the Boston bombing, Reddit was at the forefront in conducting a crowd-sourcing initiative by citizen journalists in an attempt to identify the bombers and provide help to those who needed it. Because of this, CNN was forced to take whatever new information in as the story developed. Often the information was based on the crowd-sourcing and at times false.  At one point they were told that the Boston Police Department had a suspect in custody, an hour later after the twitter page for the department commented,  they said that there was no suspect at the time.

“Today’s journalism students are, in many ways, creating the future of their profession. That’s a pretty great position to be in,” Lott said. Social media reporters and data scientists are new positions in journalism relating to the vast and expansive world of online news. Even non-journalists can stumble upon journalism with real-time stories, just by collecting crowd-sourced information across the internet.

“It’s a little frightening to see so much change happen so quickly, but I think in another five or 10 years, we’ll have a better idea of where we’re headed,” Lott said. “Right now, I couldn’t even venture a guess.”

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