On the future of journalism... in 300 words

It’s funny to end up here.

It’s not what I expected: to be a journalist, let alone to be what some may call a “social media journalist.” That is, essentially to be a creative writer by way of the cell phone. This concept didn’t exist when, as a child, I admired the black and white stories of Lois Lane and Superman nor did it exist when I dropped journalism as my major in undergrad.

But, in truth, I think I’m lucky.

Oh, to be a social media producer. Even work looks like play! #flipagram

Without a deeply developed emotional tie to the art of journalism, I have been able to dive in and pivot quickly. I’ve been able to truly be a student of the Digital Age, and I think this is the future of journalism — being a student of the age and not just the craft.

What a student learns in the current classroom, the skills of a professional writer, is important, but print journalism, 20 years from now, will not be about story inches and filling space. Instead, it will have completely transitioned from a spatial medium to a temporal one. This means that journalists will be competing for the free moments — not even minutes, let alone hours — of their readers’ time:

How do they do that? What stories command undivided attention? Are those being written, where do they fit in the landscape of local journalism, and how are they presented digitally?

I think that aspiring journalists will have to own a passion for change — not just words or camera angles or data — because in this business, the Internet is dominant, innovation is steady, and change is constant. The best thought I have on the future of journalism is not mine, but writer Alvin Toffler’s: The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.