Don’t call the morgue just yet

An example of the fancy, high-tech database I used.

An example of the fancy, high-tech database I used.

By Keeley Sheehan

I’m not worried about the future of journalism.

Two summers ago I interned at the Lockport Union Sun and Journal. I spent about three weeks of that time holed up in the attic of the Niagara County Historical Society. That summer marked Niagara County’s bicentennial and I was working on a special insert for the paper, “200 Years, 200 Faces.”

I searched through countless dusty filing cabinets, looking for bits and pieces about famous names from Niagara County’s last 200 years, everything from Abdullah, the Olympic race horse from Ontario, to supermodel Kim Alexis, to three of the area’s most illustrious hermits.

I can’t give you a link to the whole thing because there isn’t one – the insert was never made available online.

Saying that newspapers are dying not only seems simplistic, it sounds like a cop-out, or an easy way to overlook the fact that while the Internet may be dominating, nothing can replace basic research and writing skills. Does the field need a facelift? Yes. Should we send for a body bag? I don’t think so.

From working at the Union Sun, I learned that people still care about local news, and they don’t mind physically picking up a paper to get it. While one can easily turn to the Internet for to-the-minute updates on national stories, there’s a sense of community to picking up a local paper to read about last night’s town council meeting. Or hermits.

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One response to “Don’t call the morgue just yet

  1. Keeley,

    Good post. Good tie to what we are talking about with your past experiences.

    Beware of making blanket statements w/out support. When you say:
    Saying that newspapers are dying not only seems simplistic, it sounds like a cop-out, or an easy way to overlook the fact that while the Internet may be dominating, nothing can replace basic research and writing skills.

    I don’t follow your logic. Why is it simplistic to say newspapers are dying? They are. They are closing up all over the country.

    Also what does newspapers dying have to do with basic writing and reporting skills?
    Online journalists have proven great at both.
    The skills haven’t changed. We’ve just expanded our ways of telling stories.

    What you could say is that not all newspapers are dying. That is true. Some — mostly local — are thriving. In fact, some ultra local Internet sites/blogs have started printing (!!) papers. Show some of those and you have an argument.
    Some some links to those and you have my attention.

    You could also say that sometimes the pressure of delivering 24 hours news causes reporters to take shortcuts with research and writing. Then offer proof via links.

    Content: 4
    Links: 3
    Grammar: 3

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