The future of journalism. Or should that be “is there a future in journalism?”

I have had some interesting chats about careers in journalism lately. Interesting, but a tad depressing. A journalism lecturer told me that she doesn't hold out much hope for most of her students finding work as journalists when they graduate. She is frank with her students about their prospects, but says that they are still keen to study the discipline, though their chances of earning a living from it are slim. A PR bigwig said that he believes that traditional journalism is dying on its feet. He said that there will always be a thirst for latest news, but this will become a commodity which most newspapers will increasingly pick up from wire services. When it comes to in-depth analysis, he claimed it is often more useful to search out an opinion of an expert in a field, for example an economist, than read a journalist’s take on the subject. Then there is the issue that so much content isn't just free to readers, it’s also free to the media owners. Some writers are prepared to supply copy for free to publications in order to promote themselves, or rather promote the books they have just written. And of course there is all the great content that publications get for free from PR sources. So many people want to earn their living from writing, they are prepared to accept low salaries (or even no-salaried intern positions) to help them get started. Unfortunately, getting started maybe as far as they go. It is not just the death of the News of the World that has flooded the PR industry with journos keen to switch to a career in PR. But it’s not all doom and gloom for journos. There are still some great and reasonably well-paid jobs, even if there are more candidates than positions. I also know many freelancers who make a better living than they ever could as a permie. It might not always pay well, and it‘s certainly not the career it used to be, but when I asked my journalist friends whether they would advise a child of theirs to pursue a career in either journalism or PR, they were unanimous: “It has to be journalism every time!”