Jim Lehrer tells journalism students at the very expensive, private university, Northwestern, that even though the pay is low, they should enter the field.

Mick Gregory

Not that much of a pep talk for future jounalisits, who’s parents were paying $45,000 a year for them to attend and live near campus at Chicago’s Northwestern University.

Note to future journalists: you will not even make your college tuition for years, if ever, in the media.
Please, do some investigative work on the future of the industry.

Jim Le-h-r-er, the host of PBS’s “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer,” discussed journalism, and the “revolution” within it Wednesday afternoon in the half-full McCormick Auditorium in Norris University Center.

“Revolutions are seldom pleasant,” Lehrer said. “The screams from newsrooms are those of panic.”

But like any good journalist, his introduction was quickly followed by a summary of his findings: that the demise of mainstream media may be exaggerated.

“I think we have fear itself to fear,” Lehrer said. “The bloggers are commentators, the search engines search. In the beginning, there must be journalism.”

Lehrer spoke as this year’s Minow Visiting Professor in Communications. He is most known for his work on “NewsHour,” which he co-founded with Robert MacNeil in 1982 and has hosted ever since. Lehrer also has hosted 10 presidential debates and written 17 novels, two memoirs and three plays.

The Minow professorship was established by Northwestern alumni Josephine Minow and Newton N. Minow. Previous visiting professors included Walter Cronkite, Frank Rich and Judy Woodruff.

“No one better embodies the ideals of the Minow professorship,” said John Lavine, dean of Medill. “Along with Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, (Lehrer) is one of the greatest anchors of his or any age.”

Lehrer began by lauding Newton Minow, a longtime NU professor and former Federal Communications Commission chairman, who famously called television “a vast wasteland.”

“He is the guiding spirit of all of us trying to make something meaningful on television,” Lehrer said. “Simply, directly and accurately put, Newt is a hero to the people.”

Lehrer said that while journalism itself is in no danger of disappearing, the quality of journalism has to be maintained, if not improved.

Excerpt of memo from Detroit Free Press publisher David Hunke

Dear co-workers,

Due to worsening economic conditions, Detroit Media Partnership is offering a voluntary severance program.

At this time, the program is being offered to active, benefit-eligible non-represented employees of the partnership and Detroit Free Press who are 50 years of age or older with at least 10 years of credited service as of October 12. …

We have contacted union leaders to extend this offer to the bargaining unit employees who are eligible. …

The program offers two weeks of severance for every year of credited service – up to 52 weeks. … The offer is open until November 2. We are looking for 110 volunteers. If more than 110 volunteer, we will review whether we can expand the pool. Decisions about which volunteers will be accepted will be based on position and seniority. If the voluntary offer doesn’t result in a sufficient number of volunteers, or if, in the future, economic conditions worsen, it may be necessary to consider layoffs.

Excerpt of memo from editor Paul Anger

We will be reducing our newsroom workforce by about 5%. We will say goodbye to some outstanding journalists and great friends who see this as a timely opportunity to make a transition in their lives, and we will take the time to celebrate their contribution. …We’re transforming our industry from ground level.

2 thoughts on “Jim Lehrer tells journalism students at the very expensive, private university, Northwestern, that even though the pay is low, they should enter the field.

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