As always, I opened up my copy of Media Guardian this morning, looking forward to compounding the usual Monday morning blues with more news about the death of the newspaper industry. Right on cue, emblazoned across the front page, was Jon Slattery’s article on the closure of yet another journalism training scheme, namely the multimedia scheme at Press Association.
The picture looks pretty bleak, especially for this year’s crop of journalism graduates, and I can’t deny that I’m a bit worried for my own future. But I’m equally worried about what the lack of a fresh injection of talent will mean for newspapers, especially the regional and local press. I know it would be impossible to justify taking on trainees while making hundreds of redundancies, but how can newspapers possibly expect to survive in the 21st century if they stop hiring people with new and innovative ideas?
Surely a large part of their decline thus far has been because many of them have failed to move with the times, whether by developing an online brand that is distinct from the print offering instead of just a copy-and-paste version of their print articles, or by updating their content to reflect the changing priorities of the local community.
For example, just last week I saw an article in my local newspaper which revolved entirely around a YouTube video, but the online version had the full web address in the text instead of a proper link (I’m not naming the newspaper responsible as I have a work experience placement there in a few months). Ok, so all I had to do was copy and paste the address, but wouldn’t it have been better to feature the video in the body of the article, or at the very least include a link?
I know we’re in a recession and I know newspapers are struggling, but if media organisations lose sight of the need for new talent, they truly will be in terminal decline.