TNTJ: Uncertainty is the greatest challenge facing young journalists

This post also appears at Tomorrow’s News, Tomorrow’s Journalists, a new blogging ring for journalists under 30 started by Dave Lee. We will be discussing issues relevant to everyone in the media, particularly the younger members. Here is the first month’s topic:

The biggest challenge facing a young journalist in today’s media is…

Uncertainty.

This is a very simple answer to a very complex question. But it’s fitting because uncertainty is a common theme in many other challenges young journalists face. Uncertainty about many things:

  • Am I learning the right concepts and skills in school?
  • Will I find a job — let alone a good job — after graduation?
  • Should I join an innovative new venture that may not pay the bills?
  • Should I join an organization that may be behind the times but provides steady pay and benefits?
  • How can I improve journalism?
  • Should I speak up at work and risk causing trouble?
  • Should I be quiet and just do my job?
  • Should I go into PR?
  • What kind of news do people want to read, see and hear?
  • What economic models will be needed to save the different journalism industries?
  • Are they all worth saving?
  • What will my industry look like in five years?
  • Will my industry still exist in five years?

But more important than being able to identify these uncertainties is being able to deal with them. No one has all the answers and we can’t wait for all the answers.

The old models are broken and we can’t wait for someone else to fix them for us. Of what’s broken, there are some things that can be fixed and there are some that can’t.

We need to be able to work in an uncertain world. We need to be able to find a balance in some areas while breaking ground in others.

That’s why you need to have the right mindset and be open to change. That’s why you need to be entrepreneurial and be able to adapt.

We might not be able to reinvent journalism on our own, but we sure can lead the way.

UPDATE (Aug. 21): Check out a related post by Mindy McAdams, The kids are all right.

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