I had to laugh when I watched the trailer for the movie Kit Kittredge: An American Girl about a precocious little girl who fights to have her story printed in the local newspaper. “Do kids really want to be reporters anymore?” I thought. Is there some tyke banging down the door of the New York Times, story in hand?
It’s hard to say. Most of us have probably heard conversations similar to those at AngryJournalist.com of aspiring reporters who got the bait and switch: they thought they were getting a job where they would write or report and make a difference, but were eventually put off by crummy editors and lousy pay. Moreover several posters mention that the places where they work are not open to new ideas, especially when it comes to new media journalism.
As media companies across the country slash jobs and reorganize priorities, many community outreach programs that targeted aspiring journalists not yet old enough to be interns are also being cut. Moreover, many kids aren’t even reading newspapers or watching the daily news to see what a reporter’s work looks like.
One of the highlights of working in a newsroom is when a group of wide-eyed students shuffle through the labyrinth of cubicles and offices, amazed at the buzz and excitement generated by a working news staff. For a child, that could be the moment that cements their aspiration to be a journalist.
The good news is according to this Forbes survey and this UK press release, a good percentage of kids do want to be writers. Not journalists per se, but its a good start. Now its up to us to open our newsrooms and give them an occupation to look forward to.