Journalism industry is not dying

Katie Smith, Edtior-in-Chief

The highlight of my spring break took place between two plane rides from Chicago to Washington D.C. and back.

Sometime before break I was offered the opportunity to represent Illinois at the National Newspaper Association (NNA) Fellows Program in D.C. to meet with my senators and congressmen on behalf of The Daily Eastern News in an effort to produce a long-form story, which will be printed in The News mid-April.

Saying the experience felt unreal hardly does it justice. I had the pleasure of meeting nine other collegiate journalists from across the country who experience the joys, triumphs and unbelievable stress that is a college newspaper.

Each journalist demonstrated a unique and undeniable commitment to their publication and being able to speak with them about their experiences was enough to pry me out of a rut I had accidentally stumbled into.

My time there was spent with that group of young, aspiring reporters sitting in on briefings from white house domestic policy staffers, meeting with members from Gallup and determining fact from spin as we covered national immigration issues.

I fear that when people think about journalism they imagine an entity bent on breaking a story faster than its competitors, regardless of its accuracy or newsworthiness. Despite cynical opinion, journalism in its entirety is not a commercialized machine that can be bought and bribed.

If you have a poor opinion of journalists, I encourage you to change your mind. If this trip taught me anything, it is that there is an entire generation of young reporters, photographers and editors who are prepared and enthusiastic to fulfill journalism’s role in a democratic society.

My experience trying to convince politicians in Washington to set aside time to meet with me was as could be expected. I was thrilled, however, to learn at the last minute, that I would be able to meet with staff members working for Dick Durbin and Tammy Duck- worth, aside from my plans to speak with Rodney Davis, John Shimkus and Mark Kirk.

I regained an appreciation for my role as a reporter and understood the responsibility that comes along with that title.

We hear so much today about how corrupt journalism has become, and the inevitable and impending death of newspapers.

The truth is, government has manipulated and controlled the press since its first days, originally using it to oppress its people and deny them a political voice. The industry has come a long way in gaining freedom and serving publics.

Our job is neither to support a political agenda, nor exploit the people in our communities. Our job is to fulfill a role of checks and balances, and ensure the people we have chosen to lead us, whether locally or nationally, are performing their jobs ethically and honestly.

These students have spent their time in college studying Arabic, political science, print news, broadcast, multimedia journalism and women’s studies. They are entering a challenging field with high recommendations and a genuine desire to inform their public.

I am incredibly grateful to have been asked to attend this trip and have earned nothing but respect for the NNA members who mentored us.

New and seasoned reporters alike are still excited about telling your stories, sifting through the spin, and reporting the facts. I am a better journalist for having witnessed that enthusiasm in masses.

KatieKatie Smith is a senior journalism major. She can be reached at [email protected].