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Aspiring Writers Wonder about the Future of Journalism

If North Dakota has oil, Los Angeles has film. San Francisco has tech. And New York has the news. It’s no surprise that journalism students come to learn their craft in this media hub. But how do the reporters of tomorrow feel about entering a profession openly condemned by the incoming president? Kristin Schwab reports.

SCHWAB 1: For many high schoolers, Sunday means sleeping until noon or hanging out with friends. But 24 students from the tri-state area are spending their precious Sundays in a young journalists program at the New York Times. Classes started before the presidential election, when reporters from the very newspaper they are studying at said Donald Trump had a 15 percent chance of winning. And then, well… (0:22)

ROSENBAND 1: I was definitely disappointed. I don’t think for a second I could possibly say that I thought he was going to win. (0:08)

SCHWAB 2: That was 16-year-old student Odeya [Oh-day-yuh] Rosenband [Rose-en-band] from East Setauket, Long Island. She says she underestimated Trump’s potential. (0:09)

ROSENBAND 2: I chose to follow what I wanted to hear. I chose to read about Hillary’s success and Donald Trump’s failures. (0:08)

SCHWAB 3: Rosenband blames herself, but most people blame journalism. In fact, 74 percent of Americans think the news is biased, according to a recent Pew Research Center study. Now young journalists are asking: How do we do a job that people don’t have faith in?

During class at the New York Times, teacher Ari Goldman got up and drew three huge circles on a giant easel pad at the front of the room. (0:24)

GOLDMAN 1: This is a communications theorist named Stephen Hallin. Hallin’s Spheres… (0:08)

SCHWAB 4: Basically, Hallin was this guy who developed a system to decide where news falls: You report the facts, or you bring different points of view together, or you act as a watchdog. Trump falls into that last circle, Goldman tells the class. He says that journalism is at a crossroads. (0:20)

GOLDMAN 2: And I think it’s more imperative now to prepare our students for the next four years. I didn’t feel that way two months ago. But I feel that way now. (0:10)

SCHWAB 6: Nearly three-quarters of the country discount the career these kids are passionate about. If no one is listening, what’s the point? You wouldn’t blame them for giving up on journalism. But Meghan Hayfield, a 16-year-old from St. James, Long Island, says it’s more important than ever. (0:16)

HAYFIELD 1: I’ve gotten a little bit more motivated. Journalism really has to bring everyone together but also can’t let the idea of togetherness stop how we report on Donald Trump because it is really imperative to hold him accountable for everything that he says. (0:18)

SCHWAB 7: Marc Stacey, a 17-year-old from Bayer, New Jersey, was never interested in political reporting. Until now. (0:09)

STACEY 1: My cousin is actually a political correspondent with the Times, he definitely got me interested in that and then obviously with the recent election it’s definitely interesting because I feel like it’s ever changing, the news. (0:10)

SCHWAB 8: Sitting in the glossy Times building, these high school kids could very well be the Pulitzer winners of tomorrow. But until then, they’ll be looking to teachers like Goldman for guidance. (0:11)

SCHWAB 1: Do you feel that you have the answers?

GOLDMAN 3: Wow. Um. I feel I’ve got perspective, context, experience to figure out where to go. Young journalists are experiencing a lot of hurt. So I’m going to try to tell them we’ll get through this. (0:20)

SCHWAB 10: It seems like these young reporters, at least, are well on their way.

Kristin Schwab, Columbia Radio News. (0:06)

Kristin Schwab is an arts and culture journalist who has written from The Guardian, Dance Magazine and Thrillist. She currently pursuing an MS at Columbia Graduate Journalism, with a focus on long form narrative and audio. You can follow her at @kkschwab.


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