One Man Band

In the modern age of technology, journalists have been forced to adapt.


Illustration by: Emma Harris

A successful journalist must acquire a diverse repertoire of skills.

As anyone who has been a part of the world of journalism can affirm, nothing is as it used to be. Printed newspapers filled with lengthy articles are essentially considered a rarity, causing various writers and companies to struggle to remain relevant and employed.

The culprit for this departure from traditional journalism is clear: the media. Since the 1970s and 80s, newspapers have leapt from the paper to the screen, and they have never looked back.

One suspected reason for this sudden and drastic change is the decline of the human attention span, which is now at a pathetic average of eight seconds, one less than a goldfish. Ever since America placed a major emphasis on technological progress and capitalism, the human mind has been bombarded with more and more information every day, making it increasingly difficult for them to focus on one task, story, or idea at a time.

Therefore, the world of journalism was forced to respond. Individuals would no longer desire to purchase the local newspaper and sit down for half an hour to process its contents; they demanded information almost immediately—partake and proceed.

Luckily, companies were able to get creative. Through the use of websites, apps, television, podcasts, social media platforms, and more, newspapers were able to stay on their feet and maintain an audience.

Similarly to the companies, however, employees had to become just as versatile. Suppose you are a reporter for ESPN, and you are tasked with selecting a new staff member. There are two candidates: the first individual is a very experienced and exceedingly talented writer but does not indulge in any other aspect of the company, and the second is a decent, more inexperienced writer who obtains diverse skill sets and knowledge about broadcasting, social media, marketing, camera-work, etc. Most likely, ESPN would prefer to hire the second individual, as they have the potential to bring a larger contribution to the company, even though they are not as technically skilled.

For example, on the ESPN job description website, the requirements for a “Manager, Corporate Communications” includes “excellent PR” (public relations), “communicate news in a concise fashion and a variety of ways,” and “proficiency in social media” in addition to the obvious “self-sufficient writer who can quickly and clearly identify news value”

Now, the world will always need good writers, as writing provides the basic foundation for all extensions of journalism. However, it has become almost impossible to remain this sort of “one dimensional” individual and be successful in the long term.

In the words of Paris Lawson, a successful digital content reporter for the Oklahoma City Thunder NBA team, “Say yes to everything, and use every opportunity to put your foot in the door.”