When Joanna Geary, Web Development Editor for The Times told Cardiff journalism students, “Most news doesn’t require journalists, because of press releases. It’s like someone with three PHDs flipping burgers.” It made me think about churnalism and how it affects the industry.
If the world of journalism work is based on PR people writing press releases only for journalists to rehash into their own words, you know mix the sentences around a bit, where is the originality? What’s the use in studying a post-graduate diploma, to learn the skills of the trade, if we get into a job just to churn out the same rubbish that PR peddlers want us to?
Also, thanks to the internet, everyone can be a journalist if they want. Ok, their articles probably won’t get printed in The Guardian or any other newspaper, but their stories/articles/ideas will be published online for all who want to read them. The main problem these people will experience is lack of money from their work, but if they’re only doing it as a hobby will it matter to them? The benefits they will have is freedom to write what they please with no press releases to churn out again and again.
But if hacks jump on the technology bandwagon it can lead to more individual writing, alongside the necessary writing of their job. Through blogging Joanna Geary estimates she has doubled her income in just 18 months and it’s something she started outside of her employment. Nothing to be sniffed at then. She says not many journalists are tech savvy nor are they willing to accept the industry has changed, significantly. So that’s where the new breed come in.
Journalists today need to be utilising technology to get ahead. If we do this perhaps we can pioneer in the industry instead of following other people’s leads.