Care About the Content You Consume


The Editorial Board of the Fordham Ram is first and foremost a group of undergraduate students who invest their time and energy into the publication of a weekly newspaper.

In light of the recent media layoffs affecting countless journalists this past week alone, the grim prospects of the industry we dedicate so much of our heart and soul to feel both upsetting and daunting.

The future of journalism is in trouble. The Fordham Ram is worried, and you should be too.

On Jan. 23, Gannett — one of the largest newspaper publishing companies in America — slashed jobs across the country. The cuts affected newsrooms big and small, national and local. The company let go of journalists seasoned and aspiring, accomplished and promising. This incident is not an isolated one.

Last Friday, Buzzfeed News laid off 43 of about 250 journalists following a planned 15 percent reduction in the overall workforce at Buzzfeed.

The reduction included all seven members of the national desk, all six members of the national security team, two journalists covering health, all but two of the entertainment team and all but one of its LGBT desk.

In 2017, the New York news media company DNAinfo purchased Gothamist, a media company that ran local news websites in five cities across the United States. In response, reporters and editors from both companies unionized under the Writers Guild of America East.

Both DNAinfo and Gothamist were shut down a week later.

Workers in the media industry face very unsettling and very severe job instability.

According to the Pew Research Center, newsroom employment dropped 23 percent from 2008 to 2017. Newspaper employment dropped 45 percent during the same time period.

At least 36 percent of the largest newspapers across the United States – as well as at least 23 percent of the highest-traffic digital-native news outlets – experienced layoffs between Jan. 2017 and April 2018.

The job insecurity that plagues journalists is concerning to The Ram, not only because it is a field many of our reporters are looking to enter in the near future but also because it can lead to a dangerous lack of diversity in the newsroom.

As the industry becomes less and less worker-friendly, only those with the means to withstand its downsides can participate.

Journalism opportunities for post-graduate students are difficult to find. Fewer jobs mean more competition among applicants.

More competition means any one applicant needs a more prestigious university degree, a more lofty resume, a more impressive breadth of job experience and a host of other things just to be given the time of day by employers — things that are traditionally less available to those belonging to historically disenfranchised groups.

The barriers do not stop if and when applicants find job opportunities that are within their field and that they have the necessary qualifications for.

Many opportunities for recent graduates are unpaid internships disguised as prestigious fellowships. Many offer pay that is below livable wage for the cities they are located in, with no healthcare and no benefits.

Young people must either rely on parents or family, work outside their 40 hour work week or abandon the profession entirely in favor of something more secure.

Journalism, then, is not an attractive option for anyone, let alone for those offering the very voices the field and the public desperately need.

Audiences are not homogeneous; newsrooms should not be either. These spaces should offer diverse perspectives and viewpoints to ensure that the information their journalists present is accurate, fair and thorough.

It is often thought that the role of a newspaper is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. News organizations cannot achieve this goal if the comfortable do all the reporting and the afflicted do not have opportunities to tell their stories or share their voices.

Fordham students are relatively well-off in the job searching process in the sense that attending the university opens many doors that those without college degrees do not have opened for them. Students have direct access to the alumni directory, and the school holds several career fairs per semester.

However, even these resources, which Fordham students are privileged to have, could be stronger. For example, the directory only includes 20 alumni who currently hold jobs in journalism. Similarly, career fairs do not cater to journalism prospects in the same way they provide resources for business, marketing or finance industries, for reasons ranging from a lack of these companies’ own funding to a lack of coordination by the university.

On a larger scale, there must be more security in the field to ensure comprehensive coverage and a diversity of voices.

Younger newsroom employees are just beginning to show increased racial, ethnic and gender diversity, and many more would join them if there were not such frustrating systemic barriers blocking their path.

As one of the largest cities in the world, New York maintains robust and thorough media coverage. The area is fortunate in that what it loses in stifled local media outlets is somewhat compensated by the rigor and zeal in which the many other dedicated journalists approach their jobs.

Most other places are not so fortunate.

Many young journalists, those at The Ram included, want to make an impact on our communities, both now and in the future and no matter the size or scope.

Journalism is the best way we know to incite change. For that reason, it is also what we need to change first, as both reporters and consumers.

So pay attention to your local newspapers. Be conscious of the media you consume, and pay attention to where you consume it from.

Support writers guilds and collective bargaining. Donate to the National Union of Journalists and the NewsGuild of New York.

Learn to understand why diverse news is so important and why all voices must be heard, and change your consumption habits to reflect this understanding.

Journalism is essential to our society and so is every individual, voice and perspective that make up our society.

Care as much as we do about the fate of journalism because good journalism will care about you, too.