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Is journalism dying?

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Young white male reporter in long-sleeved denim blue shirt and navy pants wearing a disposable mask is crouched down in front of others who are standing.  He is wearing headphones with his right hand outstretched holding a microphone.
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR
Recruiting and retaining reporting talent is a major challenge for news media outlets.

In 2008, there were 114,000 newsroom employees. By 2020, that number had declined to 85,000.

Newsrooms are struggling to survive in the digital age. According to a 2020 Pew Research Center study, 86% of adults get their news from a digital device and fewer rely on radio or print to get the news.

Mike Mahoney is a fifty-year veteran of the industry and he says, "The pressures on it right now are about as severe as I've seen during my career."

As newsrooms shrink or close entirely, the worry over job security in the industry makes it hard to attract and retain new talent.

However, University of Kansas journalism professor Patricia Weems Gaston says, "There are jobs to be had . . . a lot of these jobs that I am seeing are being found in the some of the smaller markets."

Even so, Gaston acknowledges that, "A lot of students may not be news information track students . . .what we're finding is, is that a lot of students want to do what is called strategic communications. But again, you still have to have those journalism skills. You still have to be able to write well. You still have to get your facts together. You still have to know what's going on."

Mike Mahoney points out that just about everyone can find national news. But when it comes to "the issues that affect people on a directly daily basis . . . that's where the importance of local news comes from."

Patricia Weems Gaston points to regional non-profits that have been appearing in Kansas and Missouri. "These are entities that are looking at stories that are behind the stories," she says. "It still comes down to what's happening locally, that's what your readers really want to know."

What can save journalism? Mahoney says, "Hyperlocal, if it's done right, might be the path forward."

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Reginald David is an assistant producer with Up To Date. You can reach him at reginalddavid@kcur.org.
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