Filed under: biz, blogging, social media | Tags: blogging, credentialism, future, industry, insititution, maturation
We may not have felt it yet, but another kind of crunch is coming as a result of the American credit crisis. And for me, and others who make their living writing for blogs like this one, this looming squeeze will hit closer to home. I’m talking about the ongoing failure of the print publication industry.
There are plenty of examples ready at hand. PC Magazine, for instance, which has enjoyed a 26-year run as a print monthly, will see its last issue hit the presses January of 2009. It will, however, continue on in its online guise. Which brings me to my point: virtual space is about to have a lot less elbow room.
A recent article on Arizona State University’s journalism program points out a shift in the program’s focus to digital reporting. They are not alone. Closer to home, Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto, Canada, also recently introduced courses to add digital media to the mix in their post-graduate Publishing certificate program. Schools around the world are recognizing the industry shift, and are moving to meet the new demand. That means a number of things for those of us already in the space.
1) Credentialism Comes to Blogging
It’s still one of the few remaining places where you can get traction with an on-the-spot audition and no portfolio to speak of, but that’s about to change. With print journalists entering the online fray and grads fresh out of university and college programs brandishing field specific degrees and diplomas, gates are going to be harder to open and walk through. Those already in the field have the advantage, as long as you’re diligent in keeping your clips update, and knowing which pieces to highlight in your portfolio. Experience will still trump paper certification, but hungry new entrants will come packing both.
2) Fewer Fish Require Wider Nets
Whenever there’s economic trouble, it’s a good idea to take a long hard look at your skill set and see if you need to add to or improve it. If you’re a blogger, it’s probably a good idea to make sure you can be at least a bit of a generalist in a pinch. At the very least, be open to covering topics not usually within your comfort zone. Those you work for will appreciate the extra effort, and see that with you, they get a resource who’s quick to learn, and quick to adapt. Broadening your scope will also result in a portfolio that will suit a wider range of calls.
3) Blogging Institutionalized
Looking ahead a few years, we can anticipate one good thing coming out of blogging’s new maturity. As schools begin to shift the focus of their journalism programs, they’ll also need to supplement their teaching staff with proven experts in the field. They’ll likely try to use their existing print journalism faculty as much as possible, but eventually, they’ll need to turn to people with actual field experience, which will present the perfect opportunity for those who have a proven track record. Professional colleges, especially, wil likely need bloggers with long resumés to fill the faculty ranks.
It may seem like we’re looking at a none-too-bright future, but if you keep focused, and remember that this kind of adjustment period accompanies the legitimization of any industry, there’s a lot of opportunity to be had. A competitive field isn’t something to shy away from; the blogosphere will come out better for it in the end.