At a middle school career fair a few weeks ago at the Lafayette Educational Center, I decided to try something.
Surrounded by firefighters, attorneys, and musicians, the table I occupied with myself and our editor Christopher Dunn felt small. We write for a newspaper, and for a middle schooler, that just isn’t cool anymore. So I grabbed a bowl of candy (it was around Halloween at the time), and I asked the mass of students a simple question.
Name five national newspapers.
Most students did not know more than two or three. And those that did guess all five took a long while, and a guess or two, to get there. A large majority were unable to remember the name of the notable Atlanta newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
I don’t blame them. Almost all, if not all, of them don’t have a newspaper delivered to their door every morning, or even every weekend. They don’t get their news from a print newspaper. That’s just the nature of the world we live in today.
The reality that the journalism landscape is evolving has never discouraged me or my colleagues from pushing forward to produce quality stories that strive to keep the community informed and hold leaders accountable. Through my time at Fayette Newspapers, I’ve aimed to do that, tackling real issues that can provoke positive change in Fayette County, while never shying away from an opportunity to delve into a sports feature or two.
I know subscriptions to local newspapers aren’t what they used to be. As a result, it’s no secret that writing for your local newspaper isn’t the easiest way to make a living (something we were reminded of at the career fair when students inquired about the starting base salary in our profession). Regardless of how many eyes dart across the pages of print each day, it makes our job as journalists no less important. And though the way in which young people consume journalism is always changing, the fundamental skills needed to do the job stay the same.
While I was encouraged at the career fair when, upon learning more about journalism, one student told me, “I think I’m going to start reading the newspaper now,” I’m not blind to the fact that most students won’t. What is important, however, is staying informed each day. Maybe that’s accomplished by scrolling through a Twitter feed in the morning or turning on the news. Perhaps you’re a subscriber of Fayette Newspapers because you value being informed on what’s going on in the local community. If so, I thank you for taking the time to read the work of myself and others during my relatively brief, albeit enlightening, stint in Fayette County.
As I move on to my next adventure, I hope that you’ll continue to subscribe to your local newspaper because, even though there is commendable courage in being a firefighter and uninhibited artistry in forging a career as a musician, I also believe there is immense value in being a journalist. I’m proud of the career path I chose, and I hope, whether it’s through the newspaper or other medium, that everyone in Fayette County, young and old, sees the value in it as well.