Matt talks to Fran Reilly, executive director of News Leaders Association in Washington, DC., an organization that provides a network of support for journalists, especially helping new journalists develop leadership skills through mentoring and networking.
Matt and Fran discuss the changing landscape of journalism; the rise of online readership and the concurrent rise of sources that lack credibility; the increase of a need to protect the free press, and how to successfully fundraise—even during challenging times.
EPISODE #5, SEASON 2
What is great about being a journalist?
First of all, holding people to account. Many reporters see themselves in a service job; they're in a job that's really is about holding people accountable. It's really about helping people. I don't mean to be too Pollyannish about it, but if you don't have the information, how do you make a decision? If you don't have information, how do you vote? How do you do anything? And that's what reporters do. So, they are your eyes and ears, they're going to give you the information you need to know what's going on and they're going to hold truth to power. It really is a mission, you're not just punching the clock, you really are there because you care.
I love that. The thing to me that's so exciting about journalism is that it's 24/7. You can have a story right now that you got to go do and get it out there and have people read about it. I think it's unlike anything else, it really is…
Again, not a journalist.
I know. But you work with a lot.
Yes, absolutely. Oh my God, they're under attack, so imagine that. Yes, at the presidential level to be defined as an enemy of the people because of the job that you do, that's one layer. But then just in your own community. So, imagine you're sitting in the bleachers at your kid's baseball game and the guy next to you recognizes you from your byline and doesn't like what you wrote. There is that sort of thing you've got to deal with.
I think right now with the contraction of the news industry, there's so much uncertainty about your employment. You might have a job today, but are you going to have it next year?
Now that that's the case in a lot of industries, but it's just right now in journalism it's acute and it's terrible. I want to see it come through to the other side, and that's why I'm in this position; that's why I'm doing this work. We've got to get to the other side of where we are. Newsrooms, we've got to figure out the new models. We've got to figure out how to keep them sustainable. We have to figure out how we can hire all these smart new people coming out of journalism school.