Old-fashioned journalism practices still beat technology

5/4/2013

Reporters are a dying breed.

Reporters are a dying breed.

Not really news, but from time to time I like to read articles on professions that are growing and which are declining.

Because I have kids in college, it particularly interests me.

Graphic design is a growing profession.

My daughter, her boyfriend and my son are all studying graphic design — even though my daughter will go on to veterinary tech school after graduation next year.

By 2020, this article states, there will be 37,300 possible new jobs in graphic design, an increase of 13 percent from 2010-20.

Over the same period of time, there will be 4,000 fewer reporting jobs, a drop of 8 percent.

Reporters are no longer reporters in the sense that Clark Kent and Lois Lane were reporters.

In those not-too-hard-to-believe days, reporters grabbed a notebook and a pen and went out to cover a story. A photographer went along and snapped pictures.

Readers waited until the next day to read and see what happened.

Once upon a time, nobody minded waiting for the newspaper to hit the doorstep.

There was radio and there was television, but newspapers were a valuable, trusted part of most homes.

Headlines screamed "Titanic Sinks 4 Hours After Hitting Iceberg," "VE Day-It's All Over," "The First Footstep" and "Beatle John Lennon Slain."

Then, as it tends to do, the world changed.

Computers entered the workforce and then our homes.

Soon we could talk to one another wherever we were. We were no longer tied to a phone cord in our home or business.

Soon we were communicating by typing out messages on our phones.

Facebook brought the world to our home computers, and we could make "friends" with complete strangers we would never see in person.

The evolution will never stop.

Computers became part of our home furnishings; something we would no more live without than we would our refrigerators or microwaves.

Newspapers may have been slow to the party, but the industry recognizes that a nation that wants fast food, certainly wants fast news.

When people see a fire truck race down the block, they know that in minutes the local newspaper will have information posted to its Web site, complete with photos and video.

That is why reporters who just write are a dying breed.

When I was in college, I learned to report and write and take photos. I learned to navigate in a darkroom with rolls of film and solution to make the images come alive. If I missed a shot, there was no going back.

Journalism students leaving college today are well versed in social media, and photographers are becoming videographers.

But the more things change, the more they stay the same.

I have stuck a toe into the technology pool, but mostly for my own personal use.

There is no Humphrey Democrat website, and for the foreseeable future that won't change. I cannot see a time when that will change, but then again no one knows what the future will hold. Maybe there will be a need for it some day.

For now, I like seeing people coming out of the post office, Humphrey Democrat in hand.

Technology has changed everything and has made our lives easier. But for me, seeing your product in the hands of readers beats looking at a spreadsheet showing the number of "hits" your website has received.

Nothing beats human interaction, not even a computer.

Patrick Murphy, of Humphrey, Neb., is a former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.

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