I’m reading this moments after giving the final lecture of my introductory reporting class for freshmen at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. My students — who are on the youngest tail end of the millennial scale — defied the conventional wisdom on millennials tonight when many of them talked about their career ambitions of writing longer form journalistic pieces like what they had just completed for their final projects.
Gary’s post is perfectly in sync with their line of thinking and what their careers in journalism might look like. My students largely didn’t grow up reading the print versions of daily newspapers. (The scores on their bi-weekly current events quizzes reveal that many of them might not even consume much online news outside of the trending topics on their social media feeds.)
But the current downward spiral of traditional media might actually allow them to more successfully tackle their dreams of long-form writing than they could have when I graduated a decade ago. With the advent of sites like Medium, apps like Pocket and Instapaper, and the viability of #longreads actually getting read and shared widely online, these word count warriors — if they have talent and the appropriately viral content— won’t have to worry about paying for all the ink their think piece would have been printed on. They can write with abandon without fear of a jump line. They can hyperlink to their heart’s content to add nuance and background and multimedia and other added value to their story that the dead tree clutched in a reader’s hand couldn’t possibly provide.
It’s the message and the Medium, not the medium.
Thanks for the post, Gary. I recently listened to the audio book of “The Thank You Economy” (late to your party), and am happy to find more of your thoughts here.