Annenberg professor says future is bright for small-town journalists
Journalism students are often warned that newspaper journalism is a âdying profession,â corrupted by online and social media and doomed to lose its former credibility and integrity forevermore.
But according to Judy Muller, an Emmy Award-winning television correspondent, National Public Radio commentator and professor at the Annenberg School for Communication, this is not the case.
Last Tuesday, Muller wrote an article for the Los Angeles Times,Â âWhere Newspapers Thrive,â about how daily newspapers are not only surviving but also thriving in small towns across America.
In the article as well as in her book, Now This â Radio, Television, and the Real World, she discussed the differences between small-town journalism and national-level journalism, explaining that in small towns, most people have no choice but to read the daily papers because it is their only source for local news.
Muller expressed her admiration for the courage of small-town journalists, explaining that unlike national news correspondents, small-town reporters have to live with the people they write about, which often means awkward occurrences, such as getting shunned at the supermarket or even losing friends.
âEditors of small-town newspapers are quite brave and really inspirational,â Muller said. âStanding up to people is part of the job, and itâs not easy. They are practicing the first amendment with gusto.â
But despite the courage and admirable qualities of small town journalists, it is not a glamorous job. âYou wonât be rich,â added Muller. âYou will make a living, and maybe even a very good living, but you arenât going to strike it rich as a small-town journalist, which makes it a great place for journalism students to start.â
By learning the fundamentals of honest reporting and having to deal with possible backlash from news subjects, small town journalism gives students a great foundation for one day delving into the world of national reporting, the path Professor Muller chose to take, and quite successfully so.
But what does this all mean for the future of journalism, small-town or not? Does the proliferation of modern technology and online media foreshadow the demise of true, honest journalism? According to Muller, the answer is a resounding no.
âI think we are in a golden age of journalism,â declared Muller. âSure, itâs going to be painful. It is always painful watching people get fired, but I truly believe that the daily newspapers will emerge stronger than ever.â
In Mullerâs experienced eyes, assessing the current state of the media is all about perspective. âI think what is happening on the Internet is exciting for journalism,â Muller said.Â âIn the modern media, there are so many opportunities for young journalists to get their voices out there, and I will always believe that the more voices that can be heard, the better.â