Corbin H. Crable
I got the news on Tuesday afternoon: The Johnson County Sun had closed its doors.
My initial thought was perhaps a selfish one.
“Drat,” I said to myself. “I have one of The Sun’s employees scheduled to speak to one of my reporting classes this semester, and I just sent the syllabus to print.”
What would this now-former employee have to say to a group of budding journalists? That the number of jobs in the industry is dwindling faster than the number of pages in the Monday edition of The Kansas City Star? That the industry itself is dying?
Whatever the topic of the lecture, it surely would deliver bleak news to a group of youngsters who, in this economic climate, are hearing nothing but doom and gloom on the job front – especially when it comes to jobs in journalism.
The Gardner News remains one of the last contenders standing in the journalistic fight to stay relevant to an increasingly busy readership bent on receiving news briefs on electronic devices. And although I spent an entire column just last week singing the praises of such devices (yes, I still love my e-reader), let’s face it: There’s no substitute for real journalism.
Oh sure, bloggers try to replicate it and fail miserably. Yes, we get news from many sources, but those sources lack professional journalists’ training; their objectivity (well, for the most part); the knowhow in spelling, style, grammar and syntax; and, perhaps most importantly, the trust that can only be gained after years of writing for a loyal audience.
The aforementioned qualities are ones that readers still respect and recognize are inherent in professional writers like the ones who worked at The Sun and the ones who still work at The Star. And let’s face it, the medium may change, but the information you’ll receive will be the same. A journalist is not someone who is only a writer at a newspaper, only an anchor at a TV station, only a reporter on the radio. We are in the business of information dissemination, not simply writing for a newspaper.
If the next generation of journalists can take up the cause of reporting objectively and receiving the right training, it won’t matter what medium they choose to work for. The dedication to clear, concise storytelling will be the same. By the time they’re out and into the workforce, hopefully newspapers themselves will have inspired them to pursue that which is a noble but troubled profession.
Regardless of what you thought of the publication as a reader, The Sun’s closure doesn’t necessarily represent a dark period in the history of an industry that has struggled for years. It represents the need for younger reporters to take up the cause of solid, objective writing and keep it alive before it becomes a casualty of the digital age, buried by the untrained, wholly subjective voices of anyone who has a blog and time on their hands.