Digital Journalism OPED

I mentioned a few weeks ago that The Manitoban of the University of Manitoba was temporarily in a very real crisis position where it faced the possibility of shutting down the presses. That’s really had me thinking about the future of journalism, and of student journalism in particular.

There will always be a place for reporters in this world. This is an indisputable fact. There will always be a need for there to be someone to spread the word about politics, medical advancements, or judicial decrees. Not only are these educational articles, but they have become a source of entertainment for many. The question is: will this reporter need a degree from a J-School, or will this reporter just need to be tech savvy?

In this age, print papers are no longer a staple of a person’s morning commute. Why smudge your fingers with newsprint when you can just load up a news site on your smart phone? All major news providers offer online subscriptions, as do entertainment news sources. Many of the primary news sources offer audio programs as well, including but not limited to radio segments and podcasts.

It could be argued that it isn’t necessary to have graduated from a post-secondary institution like a J-School or even a traditional college or university with a degree in journalism to become a reporter. All you need is a willingness to ferret out sources and have a regularly updated web page. You don’t even need to pay for a domain name if you are strapped for cash when you’re starting out: there are so many free platforms accessible to anyone with an email address.

So back to the original question: what does this mean for student journalism? For me, personally, it means that I need to step up The Quill’s online game. We’ve had a rough year for change over, and unfortunately our online presence took a hit. My main goal is to get us back on track with our website, and to re-establish our presence on social media. For my successor, the impact of the digital world on student journalism will mean printing fewer physical editions per year and amping up our online presence even more, keeping our readers up to date as news happens rather than on specific days per week. I’d love to see The Quill starting a podcast to discuss Brandon University news, and perhaps partnering with the Bobcats to have a section or even a full weekly podcast dedicated to our favourite sports teams.

I am definitely of the opinion that the world of journalism is shifting to an increasingly online presence. The Quill will need to roll with the punches to maintain its status as one of the oldest publishing student run newspapers in Canada. I also hold the hope that The Quill will continue to print physical copies. Perhaps we’ll eventually go the way of many of our fellows throughout the country and begin to publish a monthly magazine while reporting relevant news stories online.

Time will tell, and I look forward to witnessing The Quill’s evolution.