The Young and the Webless: Tomorrow's Journalists Want to Be in Yesterday's News(print)

It seems natural to assume that college journalists think of newsprint the way NBA basketball players think of short-shorts: as a ridiculous relic from a hopelessly unhip past generation. But the longtime adviser to the Florida Atlantic University newspaper, Michael Koretzky, says that in his experience, young writers care little for the web; they want to see their story in ink.

From a column Koretzky wrote in yesterday's Huffington Post:

Print is special to college journalists precisely because it's old tech: Hey, I must be important because they killed trees to publish my words. A living thing died for my genius -- and not yours.

Koretzky's theory is that young people are attracted to that which is scarce -- an apt description of the printed news page in 2010.

He tries to convince his students that they should develop their tech skills if they want to catapult themselves into a career with newspapers who already have journalists from the analog age. But to the high-minded aspiring reporter, Koretzky sounds like the guy in The Graduate who says to Dustin Hoffman's character: "I've got one word for you: plastics."

(You young writers probably don't get that reference -- but your parents might!)

Given all the layoffs in newspapers and magazines, it seems crazy that young writers would not want to move toward the one section of media that's actually growing: online content. Koretzky's guess:

Because the most intriguing jobs are still in print. There aren't a lot of them, and they're dwindling every day. But college students rarely contemplate the odds when considering their careers. It's the same reason college rock bands and rap groups think they'll hit it big: Those other musical acts suck, but we're going to make it.

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