Print or not, news will be delivered
June 7, 2009 9:10 p.m.
I love to come up with analogies about the death of print media.
Generally, the comparisons refer to old things that are long dead: fossils, dinosaurs and so on. Occasionally they refer to things that are dying, but not quite dead yet: Print is in the intensive care unit, print is on life support, print is like the American auto industry.
These analogies make me laugh, as does the concern over the health of the newspaper industry. I have a romantic attachment to newsprint, like nearly all of my professional colleagues, but I also understand that as time passes, new generations develop new ways of absorbing and interacting with the news.
I’m not sure anyone can accurately predict the future of print media, or of newspapers in general. The only thing I know for sure is that this is a terrible time for anyone, like me, who wants to get a job at a newspaper.
Like many other young journalists, my relationship with print media and with journalism has evolved over the years.
Reflecting back, I think I’ve always been a newspaperman.
I went to a small Catholic school from kindergarten through the seventh grade, and the only newspaper on campus was written and produced by student government.
Even then, I thought it was a problem that you had to be an elected official to work on the newspaper. But I read the thing religiously and, when the opportunity presented itself, I ran for student government for the sole purpose of working on the school paper.
That was in the fifth grade. I ran for spirit coordinator and lost by a considerable margin.
Unfortunately, my newspaper plans were on hold until I entered high school. And again, unfortunately, I was thwarted.
I went to a very small, and relatively new, arts academy. People who went there were more interested in dancing, painting, singing and acting than producing journalistic work, and nobody had bothered to start a school newspaper.
This situation was baffling and frustrating, so in the 10th grade I simply started one with a small group of like-minded friends.
It grew to publish on a quarterly basis and was funded entirely through advertising revenue. The very first issue was printed on a copy machine and stapled together. By the time I graduated, we had moved up to newsprint.
After high school I came to UCLA, and one of the first things my orientation counselor told me was to join the Daily Bruin. I scoured the Daily Bruin Registration Issue on my second day on campus, looking for information about how to join.
I found an ad that directed me to an online application, had my mom ship me old copies of my high school paper for clips and worried for several days about being accepted.
Fortunately the editors in 2005 thought I was qualified. After I was accepted I worked my way up to running the joint.
Joining The Bruin was a decision that changed my life.
People can lament the death of print media all they want, call print newspapers dinosaurs and chatter about our dying business model all day.
I’m hopeful for the future because there will always be people like me who defy common sense and will willingly disregard personal safety to report the news. Those same people will retain the core of our journalistic values, and will continue to be a trusted source of information.
During my time here I fell in love with journalism and newspaper reporting in particular. I’ve crossed police lines, thrown myself into bomb scares, riots and hazmat zones. I drove directly into a fire when everyone else was running the other way, fearful for their lives and property. I was even beaten with a baton by a police officer while I was reporting.
Journalists do crazy things. I’ve never traveled to a war zone, but that’s next on my list.
I’ve also met Morgan Freeman, Bill Clinton, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and a host of other elected officials and celebrities. I’ve traveled to San Francisco; San Diego; Sacramento; Portland, Ore.; Kansas City, Mo.; Boston; Washington; and a number of other places to report on events and attend conferences.
Being a reporter means that I get to go places, meet people and do things that other people rarely get to experience.
That’s part of the allure of the job, but there’s a lot more to it than that.
I’m here to deliver news, information and stories in a timely and readable manner ““ and my ability to do so in an unbiased and professional way is vital to my foundation as a journalist and the Daily Bruin’s foundation as a news organization.
The medium for the journalism doesn’t matter, and the business model will fall into place. That might not include newspapers, but it was never really about the printed newspaper in the first place.
It’s about fulfilling our collective need to know what’s going on, and doing so in a way that makes sense and resonates with our communities.
I look forward to a long career in the news industry, and look forward to embracing its future ““ whatever that may be. In the mean time, if you are reading and have a job open for a reporter, I’m available.
Pesce was the 2008-2009 editor-in-chief, 2007-2008 news editor, 2006-2007 assistant news editor and a news reporter from 2005 to 2006.