This weekend I went to a Northwestern alumni event and had a great conversation with one of the Medill School of Journalism’s incoming freshman. I had fun talking with the student and her mom, and it made me realize how much has changed since I graduated with my Master’s Degree in 2001.
My only tools of the trade were a tape recorder (yes—with actual tapes), a notebook and a pen. Apparently incoming freshman are now expected to arrive with a digital audio recorder, digital camera, video camera and a lavalier mic. Obviously changing technology is driving the cost down and making those items affordable, but it also says a lot about the changing roles of journalism and how a story is reported.
When I got home I told my husband about the new freshmen and the fact that they are the class of 2013. If I could put numbers in all caps, I would. Seriously, 2013? When did that happen? These “kids” were born in the 90s–a decade I remember well. While I was talking to them, I found myself saying things like, “I’m sure a lot has changed since I was at Medill,” and “When I was there…” At least I didn’t tell them about how I had to walk to class in the snow uphill both ways.
When I went to bed, I felt a lot older than I had earlier in the day. But I also had a renewed level of excitement for the industry, for the new Medillians, the reporting they will do and the way they will help shape the future of journalism. Newspapers, magazines and online news are changing rapidly right now, but I can’t imagine the need for good reporting will go away. It will be interesting to see how it changes shape.