Being a big organization does not necessarily make a group the best.
Despite Christopher Newport University not having an official journalism program, last week The Captain’s Log staff had the opportunity to attend a student media convention in New Orleans, La. At the convention, I verified my goals and dreams regarding a journalism career, had my confidence in the staff repeatedly renewed, and managed to avoid being licked by a charming homeless man on Bourbon Street.
The 92nd Annual Associated Collegiate Press/College Media Association Convention had more than 2,300 student journalists in attendance. Early the first day, The Captain’s Log (CLOG) staff realized even for a small school, we had a small staff. We met several editors with a staff of 100, one university even claimed to have 185. Fellow students spouted off titles we’d never heard—Associate News Design Editor, Managing Web Programmer, Spell Check Whisperer—it was baffling. After graduation, we intend to compete for the same jobs as these media army members. I wondered if we were compromising our chances by not being involved in one of the intense, extensive, official journalism programs. After a few more workshops and lectures, though, I began to believe our miniscule powerhouse operation had an advantage.
“Are you an editor, layout and page designer, writer, or broadcast anchor?” a student or speaker would ask. “…Yes,” a CLOG staffer would reply. “Your News Editor finds and assigns stories, manages the articles progress AND lays out the front page?” an Anne Arundel Community College girl exclaimed. “Hmm, oh yes,” I’d nod, my nonchalance barely contained as I realized this was becoming a fact to be envied.
I am often told journalism is a dying profession. Thanks Aunt Bopsy/random kid in Biology class/boy who will NOT be getting a second date, great way to respond to my telling you what I want to do with the rest of my life. Journalism is not dying. It is changing, just as it did when we switched from the printing press to Apple products, with Watergate somewhere in between. (That’s how it went, right?) Thanks to the Internet and the recent addition of social media, news is more of a conversation than ever before. However, in the midst of an easily attained information overload, someone to sort facts and persist until truth is achieved is vital.
Humans want to be informed about the world around them. The medium by which they consume this information and communicate has simply changed again. (Who wants to go back to grunting and beating chests with me, anyone?) A typical online news story features the article with links to more information, a short video and photo gallery to accompany the piece, and tweets and statuses promoting it.
Professionals at the convention stressed the importance of being able to use multimedia to report. Besides the mass sums of money writers tend to make, the newspaper staff of CNU is motivated to make The Captain’s Log a multimedia operation because we want to. We have no boxes to check in a course catalog or journalism credits to attain. We love it, and for those reasons I have decided I prefer this institution and its smaller programs. Sure, we have more work, but we also have more passion and camaraderie.
If journalism is dead, that was a convention of over 2,300 zombies. This is fine with me, as it makes a great story, one I wouldn’t want to write anywhere else.