Op-ed: Dear Canadian journalists
It's time to take action
Dear Canadian journalists,
It’s time we have a serious talk. Yes, you are in trouble.
It’s not you, it’s the Paul Godfreys of the world. They have pushed a noble profession closer and closer to falling into a black void of unemployment and no value, the Mount Doom for our seemingly cursed pens (or keyboards, if you want to be accurate). One overpaid CEO to rule them all. One overpaid CEO to save them. One overpaid CEO to take them all out and in the darkness fire them.
At some point, the epic saga about the survival of journalism became overburdened by the weight of our empty wallets. We stopped fighting back, or, at least, we became complacent in accepting the ruling iron fist of money. We mourn our lost brothers and sisters in arms. We write about it, we rant about it, we scream it from the depths of the Twitterverse. We just haven’t done anything about it.
Journalism is not dead, because news can never die. It has been shared long before ill-fated financial aims merged with the informative superpowers of the newsroom. We’ve forgotten that we still hold the pens (I mean, keyboards), and with that we can figure out a way to survive, and thrive.
We can only do that if there’s belief and hope–idealistic terms for the most part, but a lot has been built and done on these two abstract concepts. We’ve spent over a decade trying to retain these ideals, desperately navigating the murky waters to try and figure out why journalism is in trouble, what led it there and what to do to fix it.
I’m writing this from a journalism school among future journalists who believe that there is something invaluable journalism has to offer–stories, information, truth, analysis, depth, understanding. We wouldn’t be paying thousands of dollars of tuition (and student debt) if we didn’t believe that.
Over the past year, every class has started with a professor emphasizing the changing landscape of journalism. This isn’t done as a negative portrayal of the profession, but as a reality we need to accept and learn to navigate. It’s certainly a bleak reality, but, as a friend and fellow journalism student pointed out yesterday, “All industries shift and downsize and change and sometimes grow.” Where there are ups, there are also downs; fluctuations, after all, are a natural economic occurrence, one the journalism industry is not immune to.
There is a future of journalism. More importantly, there is a present of journalism. Instead of crying wolf on the death of our professional identities, let’s figure out a way to rebuild. It’s time to stop talking about our woes, buy some bandages and a pair of crutches, and fight harder to tell the news.
With the warmest of regards,
by Fatima Syed
Fatima Syed is the blog editor of the spring 2016 issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism.