Veteran journalists talk about the hardships of the industry
By Elyssa Morataya
The journalism industry is struggling. New journalists are facing obstacles at almost every turn. Between social media, a distrusting public and a post-pandemic world, the future of journalism is ever-evolving.
“It pains me to say, but I believe [print] is dying,” Glenn Miller, a Journalism instructor at FGCU, said.
Miller has worked in the journalism field for 48 years, 33 of which were spent writing for the Fort Myers News-Press. Miller accepted a buyout from the News-Press in 2012 and is currently a freelance writer.
“Readers have left print behind and continue to leave,” Miller said. “When the readers leave the advertising leaves. When the advertising goes, the revenue goes.”
With the internet creating a world of information at our fingertips, print media is slowly becoming a thing of the past. While some papers and magazines are still circulating, many publications have switched to completely online platforms.
Micheal Braun, a breaking news reporter for the News-Press, has found ways to adapt.
Braun uses his phone to take photos, capture videos and cross-check important information.
“There will always be some kind of newspaper,” Braun said. “It may not be a physical newspaper, [but] there would be a website or something else.”
Social media and online publications are starting to become the future of journalism.
One of the biggest challenges facing journalists today is the impact of the phrase fake news. The term is not incredibly new, but recently it has been weaponized and used to discredit reporters & media outlets.
“[Fake news] has had a profound and deleterious impact,” Miller said “Now, whenever a politician comes across a negative news story, all he has to do is whine, cry and bellow ‘fake news.’”
The term once referred to the harmful spread of misinformation on social media sites; however, today, anyone could attempt to label anything they disagree with as fake news.
“Try talking to people who think you’re fake news,” Braun said. “There’s no way that you can even explain to them what you do and how you do it.”
Fake news isn’t the only label that gets put on journalists.
Many reporters are harassed and threatened because of their job. Developing a thick skin is essential when navigating interviews and press conferences.
“I think [having a thick skin] comes in handy,” Miller said. “Nobody likes to be criticized, and nobody likes to be threatened. I’ve had people get mad at me. I think it just comes, and the more you do it, the more your skin develops some toughness.”
Braun also believes thick skin is necessary for those pursuing a career in journalism.
“You absolutely have to have thick skin to be a journalist. You have to be able to weather ‘fake news’ people yelling at you,” Braun said. “I’ve been on murder scenes where I try and talk to family, and some people say, ‘get out of our face, or we’ll kill you.’ You definitely have to have a thick skin.”
Braun also said that journalists can’t take things personally, even threats.
Most people he talks to at crime scenes have just gone through a traumatic experience and do not want to open up to a reporter on the scene. Although he has not made any enemies, Braun has upset quite a few people during his career, and some have been known to retaliate.
Braun once wrote a story about a police officer who used a handicapped parking space to pick up food, which is an infringement that would usually cost the average citizen a small fine. The story gained some negative attention from the Sheriff’s office and they gave Braun the cold shoulder.
“The Sheriff’s Office really doesn’t care for the News-Press and will try anything to keep information from us, but you just keep going,” Braun said.
There are ways Braun still gets the information he needs despite the obstacles thrown his way.
Despite its ups and downs, neither Braun nor Miller ever considered leaving the business.
“I’ll be in this until I retire, or they get rid of me. I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Braun said. “This has been a labor of love for me… It’s unbeatable.”