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BREAKING NEWS: Journalism is not dead. Come see for yourself this week.

January 26th, 2012 · 32 Comments

Okay, just felt I had to say that in advance of a great film festival that my pal Rod Mickleburgh and a couple others have organized at the Vancity Theatre starting Friday.

You can see the full schedule here. Come on down, all news junkies! Or anyone!

And, in honour of the occasion, I feel compelled to say that one of the weirdest things about working in the business these days if having to deal with the popular image people have that the mass-media industry is dying, if not already in the coffin. A popular image that is perpetrated by … the mass media.

(Recent low moment: Watching ‘Are You There, Chelsea?’ when her friend complains she has no money because “I studied journalism in university and now I’m working as an unpaid intern. Why did I study journalism?)

Which is all strange because what I see is a huge hunger for information — much more evident than it was when I started as a reporter back in 1983 — the increasing popularity of documentaries, the proliferation of incredibly interesting non-fiction books about topics no one ever dreamed of when I was starting out, and more.

Yes, the old business model of changing. The era when a particular type of news business had a monopoly is gone. Some news organizations are adapting well; others aren’t.

But the most encouraging thing I see is that the public seems to want news. Maybe not news as it was dished out previously, but news.

And there are young people who still want to find it. I teach in the Langara Journalism program, where we get a new crop of students every year who are actually passionate about discovering stuff and telling stories about it. They are also getting jobs in dozens and dozens of news outlets that are still functioning quite well, thanks.

As you’ll see if you come out to some of the films at this news festival, the news business changed a lot from the 1920s to the 1970s. (Just as it did from the 1840s, when most Canadian newspaperspapers were just organizing vehicles for one set of ranting political activists or another, to the 1920s.)

It’s changing again now. Sometimes I miss the old days a lot, when big, corporate, unionized newspapers dominated and we got to do whatever we felt like, because we knew people would buy our papers no matter what. (I tear up every time I watch the ending of State of Play, the recent movie with Russell Crowe and Rachel McAdams, when the presses start rolling, the papers start coming off and the trucks start getting loaded with them.)

But I — and many others — are also kind of enjoying this crazy, roller-coaster ride we are on where we’re exploring a new world, with our readers, through regular stories and blogs and tweets and everything else that comes along.

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