Journalism majors attend countless meetings, search for stories, pull editing all-nighters and plow through piles of interview notes -- all in the hopes that they will have a meaty enough portfolio to land them a job in a field they're regularly told is belly up in the digital economy. Last week, living proof that journalism is not dead walked on campus in the form of Holly Edgell.
Edgell has experience in almost every facet of journalism including teaching, print news, broadcast news and freelance. She now works as the community editor for WCPO, a broadcast news station in Cincinnati, Ohio. This role places her in the new frontier, looking over the edge into journalisms digital future.
"I like what I'm doing now the best," she said. "Because with the ability to combine journalism and social media, I think it makes journalism and news gathering more fun, more connected and more community oriented. Technology has progressed to the point where journalists can do a lot more by themselves. With all the new apps and newsgathering tools, it's a great time to be a journalist."
Edgell and OBU were united when Holly Easttom was chosen as a recipient for the Scripps Howard Foundation Grant. Recipients were chosen from among members of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, and Easttom was chosen to visit WCPO-TV and WCPO-Digital in Cincinnati, Ohio.
"The grants, funded by the Scripps Howard Foundation and administered by AEJMC, enable faculty to travel to different media outlets for two weeks during the summer to experience first-hand how media outlets are using social media to deliver and enhance their communications," An article in the AEJMC Newsletter said.
Following Easttom's visit, Scripps informed WCPO of a further opportunity to collaborate with OBU.
"I was semi-volunteered," Edgell said. "My boss, Dave Peterson, was approached by Sue Porter at Scripps and she told us about the program, and wanted to know if any of his people would be interested. Dave knew that I had taught and I love to do this stuff, so it kind of fell into place."
Edgell spent her time at OBU visiting multiple communication and news classes, presenting various topics within the journalistic field. As an expert in her field, as well as a former journalism student, she was able to offer a unique glimpse into the future of many communication students.
One of the topics Edgell shed light on was the evolution of modern day journalism. Edgell said that ethics, standards and objectivity are the unchanging foundations of journalism.
"What has changed is storytelling," she said. "Stories are now online, or in a magazine, or on TV, and then social media adds the aspect of asking people what they think and what they want to hear."
Student journalists are frequently told that the field is rapidly dying around them. Edgell said that the digital age proves these claims to be false.
"Journalism is not dying, it's changing," Edgell said. "When parents see stories about newspapers going out of business or cutting jobs, what they don't realize is that what's happening is a massive change in the industry."
The changing field requires journalists to change as well.
"If you are someone who can adapt, you will have a job," Edgell said. "Journalism industries will survive, they will just be in a different form. They will be on your phone, on your television and on your computer."
One of the challenges to a journalist is the industry's reputation that precedes them.
"People have a love hate relationship with journalists," Edgell said. "The key is to work with integrity and keep your word. Show up on time, and respect people's time and emotions. Sometimes as journalists we have a sense that we're entitled to something because of our profession, and that's not the case. Behave with more humility, and I think we might get more love from the public."
Loved or hated, the necessity of journalism will ensure that the field continues to exist.
"A lot of people put journalists up there with lawyers and criminals," Edgell said. "It's one of those things where you can hate lawyers, but the minute you need someone, who are you going to call? Many people hate journalists but when you need information, or you need to tell your story, you need a journalist."
Tension does not only exist between the public and journalists, but within the field itself.
"There has always been disagreement between broadcast and print, and I think it's because print journalists see themselves as the originators, while television journalists see them as outdated," Edgell said. "As someone who has worked with all types, I can say that I think at heart everybody works really hard, is very smart and knows a lot about what they're doing. As everyone adapts, the differences between the two are melting away, and we're realizing that the foundational differences are all in our mind."
As a new generation of students emerges into the workforce, the divide will be even less noticeable.
"Journalists who are getting their resumes ready as they prepare to graduate should be looking to market themselves as multimedia journalists," Edgell said. "Employers should know that you can write, but you should also be able to tell them you can take pictures, shoot basic video or design graphics. You need to be able to do more than one thing. Know your strengths, but pick a couple of other things that you can do well so that you can honestly say, 'I'm a multimedia journalist.'"