|As someone who is absolutely in love with traditional media – think newspapers, magazines, TV and radio – I’m feeling compelled to put in my two cents about what’s going on in the land of journalism. Yes, I know this is not a new topic, but I find myself bringing it up often in conversations, and it’s truly top-of-mind for me.
I confess, I have printer’s ink in my blood. For full disclosure of where I’m coming from: I read the L.A. Times, front to back, as a little girl growing up in L.A.; I was editor of my high school newspaper and then editor of my college newspaper (UCSB); and then went off to the Big Apple to the Columbia U. Grad School of Journalism. You can’t get more focused or dedicated than that. And then I worked as a reporter for a number of years before branching off into P.R.
So, I am deeply saddened that newspapers are vanishing before my very eyes. Reporters are suddenly not where they are supposed to be; we find out when their e-mails bounce back. Other reporters are there but are furloughed, which is almost the same as not being there. And those who remain are working their fannies off, sometimes carrying several more beats than ever before.
And let’s talk about the news hole – the term that refers to how much space there is for these publications to deliver news and features. It’s shrinking! I remember when I used to need two arms to cart the L.A. Times into my house on Sunday mornings. Same for the O.C. Register. And carrying them both in at once felt like a workout at the gym. Not anymore. During one windy day a few months ago, the Register was blown into the far corner of a neighbor’s yard. The heft of a newspaper carrying lots of stories and lots of ads is a thing of the past.
Am I crying about this? Yes. But I’m also rejoicing in the new opportunities. I am learning to love the social media channels that are literally exploding around us. They are new and different – something to learn, which I love. There is almost immediate gratification, as their viral nature makes things happen in the blink of an eye. Of course, I do feel a little overwhelmed. For someone used to taking in information while casually turning the pages of a newspaper, absorbing information via short bursts on Twitter or following links referenced in every social media channel is a shock to the system. I sometimes want to hold up my hands and say, “Whoa, hold on! I haven’t read and appreciated those last items yet. Wait!”
This is truly an interesting time in media. The old media hasn’t gone away. It’s still here, and it’s still important. Thumbing through a copy of Inc., paging through the Times or Register, or catching the evening news is still part of our lives – at least for those “of a certain age.” But catching up on Tweets, checking out what everyone is doing on Facebook or connecting with my business contacts on LinkedIn is quietly taking over more of my media time.
I don’t know when this straddling both old and new media will be over, and we will just be left with new media, social media, digital media – whatever you want to call it. In the meantime, I am relishing all of it. Savoring the old, and embracing the new. An interesting time, indeed, for a boomer news junkie.