Let’s be clear about one thing: 2009 will be much, much worse for journalists and established media companies than 2008.
And 2008 has already seen more than 15,000 jobs lost at U.S. newspapers. I believe 2009 will be a defining point in time for U.S. newspapers and not in a good way. Many promising young journalists and students are leaving journalism for other fields.
So, I have to ask: When this financial crisis is over, who will be left to rebuild journalism? Will there be enough talented journalists left to rebuild? Will the journalists left have the Web skills that journalism sorely needs?
Usually, we’d look to the next generation. We’d say that the future will bring in new, exciting ideas and fresh talent. First, most j-schools follow the industry, not lead it. They are filled with more curmudgeons and technophobes than most newspapers.
The other major problem I see is that many of our most talented would-be journalists are switching majors and planning on entering other careers. And many of the young talent that did work in news organizations left before they ever had a chance to get into a position of power to make significant change.
The future is beyond bleak for U.S. newspapers. The future of journalism is still up for grabs. There will be , however, many innovative journalism startups in the next five years.
But will there be enough startups and enough talented, modern journalists to replace all that we are losing today?