In the fall of 2019, Journalism History conducted an undergraduate student essay contest. Students answered the question that our podcast hosts ask at the end of every episode: Why does journalism history matter?
Molly Fiscella, University of Kansas, submitted this month’s essay. Additional essays will be posted each month throughout 2020.
Journalism history is something that throughout the years has helped shape how future generations look at the world. Growing up in my social studies classes, most of the material we would look at came from journalists who worked hard during that time to make sure that people knew what was happening, but also to document history. Some of my most vivid memories from high school social studies include learning about yellow journalism, racketeering, Watergate, and both World Wars. When I think of these subjects, I always think about the journalism that occurred behind them. Without journalism, how would our generations today be able to study, learn, and really see what happened behind events?
History is wide and can be made every day, but what matters about history is how people remember it. When journalists sit down and write, they use past work by other journalists to help shape how they write, report, and spread the news. In logistical terms, journalism began in the 1600s with newspapers being printed and today has become very advanced. When I think about journalism today I think of my phone or computer, however, if you asked my grandma she would tell you she thinks of the newspapers being brought to her house every morning.
I remember the first time I thought about how the history of journalism has changed, and it was when I was applying for the J-School at KU. I remember coming on my tour, and first being taken to the UDK [University Daily Kansan] office where students were working on writing newspapers and filming broadcast media. At first, that scared me because I knew that is not the journalism path I wanted to take, but then, I was shown the Strategic Communications major. In my opinion, Strategic Communications is as new to journalism as anything, and it showcases a new beginning for what journalism can be. Knowing that you can chase a career in media marketing, social media, online marketing, and much more all through a journalism degree shows the growth this industry has had.
Another thing that shows the growth in the journalism field is how much the local news has changed even in the last 10 years. From the quality of the video, to the speed of how quickly stories are put out, a lot is changing. Now, if you didn’t catch the local news you can just go to the internet and find out what has happened. Also, if you see something happening and need to know what’s going on, you can usually find it on a local news network’s Facebook live in a matter of minutes. Journalism continues to blow my mind with how advanced it is becoming, and I am excited to see where it is at in five years or so.
Journalism history is very important, because with the growth comes new opportunities. I refuse to believe the field of journalism is a dying. In my opinion, it is growing each day and reaching new heights I didn’t think were possible. With the growth of technology, this industry is just beginning. In my opinion, it is starting over. We have seen journalism from newspapers, to magazines, to television shoes, to the local news, to social media and now what’s next?
I for one am very excited to begin my career in journalism at such an exciting time because I never know what I will learn or be assigned to do next. I also like how the old ways are still relevant, and although they might be overpowered by new industries, the classics will always be there. You might catch yourself picking up a newspaper and remembering what journalism was once like, and then find yourself scrolling through social media to “Breaking News”, who knows, but they are both great examples of how we receive information in the world. Without what happened in the past, there is no clear sense for what might happen in the future, and I am glad to be a part of that.