Thursday, March 12, 2015

What's happening to journalism?

Bloomberg Business reported recently that Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism is reducing its class size and eliminating six positions from its staff.

Columbia and journalism have long gone together as the school administers Pulitzer Prizes and is the only Ivy League school to grant a graduate journalism degree, a program founded by Joseph Pulitzer in 1912.

Bloomberg places this in the context of the retrenchment of the news business. Love that word retrenchment. Sounds so innocuous.
The school will gradually reduce enrollment over several years and has already stopped filling some vacant faculty positions, Steve Coll, dean of the school since 2013, said in an e-mail to students, faculty and staff today.

News organizations around the world are cutting staff and budgets as advertisers and readers have fled traditional media for free online sources and social media sites, such as Twitter. While graduate student applications rose sharply after the recession that began in 2008, the school’s class size is headed back to a lower “historical norm,” Coll said.

I've always felt somewhat conflicted over the tension between traditional journalism and free on-line sources and social media, being a perveyor of the latter. 

It reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend who works in the music business. He was giving me shit for taking gigs in local bars, which I do as someone with a non-musical day job. His argument was that I was pushing people out who are trying to make a living on scarce opportunites.

Another friend who was part of the conversation raised the issue of a weekend "amatuer" painter selling his or her art.

Do people have the right to seek recognition for doing what they enjoy doing, even getting paid for it, if it's not how they make their living, recognizing as we must that it adversely impacts those who really need the work?

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