Is journalism a waste of tuition?: media experts say “no”

Bradley students had the opportunity to hear about the future of media from local experts last Thursday in the GCC.

The State of the Media Industry panel discussion featured panelists representing Central Illinois Business Publishers, the Peoria Journal Star, Triad Broadcasting Company and WTVP public television.

Several panelists cited growth in technology as a catalyst for the changes and evolution in media.

“I think I can probably speak for everyone here when I say that the biggest change across all forms of media has been technology,” Jonathan Wright, Managing Editor for Central Illinois Business Publishers said. “[With] the internet digital versions of magazines, streaming on the web and everything else, I think our processes are different.”

Panelist Ken Mauser, publisher at the Peoria Journal Star, said the technology updates have changed the way the newspaper business works today.

“In the newspaper industry, the barrier to entry was you had to buy a big hunk of iron, it was a very expensive investment to buy a press,” he said. “Those barriers to entry I think for all of our media have virtually disappeared. We all know on the web there’s bloggers, you can launch a website overnight. There’s competition out there in various forms.”

Mike Wild, general manager of JMP Media Group, said from a business perspective, consolidation has become a way of life in a volatile economy.

Chet Tomczyk, President and CEO of WTVP-Television Station, said it is important not to forget the media’s main job.

“I think the thing that we need to concentrate on is what has stayed the same,” he said. “That’s delivering content. That’s important. I think as we all do this, we find different ways to take our messages, to take what we have to say and get it out to the consumer.”

Communications department chair Paul Gullifor asked if students are wasting their tuition dollars studying the art and craft of journalism if any citizen can get online and claim to be a journalist.

“No, they’re not wasting their money because strong, credible journalism has to be an important cornerstone of our democracy,” Mauser said. “Getting coverage of our political scene out there in a reputable way, and the training that goes into that, how to source your story, how to tell your story, the ethics. You don’t know if that exists on some of the blogs that you go to.”

For the many journalism students in the audience, one of the most valuable segments of the discussion came when the panelists shared the characteristics that they found important to success in media.

“Be flexible,” Wright said. “Be open. No matter what field you go into, you need to be able to write and communicate.”