Roger Mudd, whose new book The Place to Be will delight even those who don’t remember when the real news came on TV at 6, told about getting questioned by a journalism student on whether there were any future in the business. (Roger is less than optimistic about the future of news as in newspapers, radio or TV. His book is largely about glory days of the news business when indeed Washington — and to a similar extent New York — was the place to be.) The student was responding to Roger’s pretty grim, though accurate, tales of disappearing newspapers and declining TV news viewers. “I want to be a journalist,” the student said; “but if there’s no future in it, I should be looking at another field.” Hoping to encourage what seemed a bright young man and salvage a potential bright hope, Roger answered that the stories are out there, and if he really wants to tell them, there will always be a place.
I hope so. Horrified as I am at the prospect of facing the day without a cup of coffee and the front sections of the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times, I hang onto the hope that there’s light at the end of that newsprint-scented tunnel. The internet I guess? Roger also told of a very bright young woman whom he asked about where she got her news. She said she kept CNN on very low all the time, and if she noticed something that interested her she went to her computer and brought up New York Times online. But if newspapers disappear, their online sites aren’t likely to survive long.
Maybe it’s just that the world keeps right on changing, for better or for worse (you’re invited to read a few more comments on this on my RedRoom blog.) But I continue to hope for the survival of daily news in print and decent news on TV… and I continue to believe in storie.