We’re back on the endangered species list

By Mike Lange
Staff Writer
    As Yogi Berra once said, “It’s like deja vu all over again.”
    According to the latest issue of Career Cast, a nationwide job search site, newspaper reporters are still on the endangered species list.
    We’re in the top 10 once again along with mail carriers, travel agents, lumberjacks and meter readers.
    There’s no doubt that email has replaced a lot of regular mail nowadays. Thankfully, my grown children and grandkids still send us handwritten thank-you notes and cards.

    I haven’t used a travel agent in 25 years, thanks to online booking. Within 20 or 30 minutes I can book a flight, rental car and motel room anywhere in the country.
    With fewer trees to cut for the papermaking industry, there’s less need for lumberjacks.
    And meter readers are still around, but they’re being phased out by technology.
    As far as newspaper reporters go, however, I’m not convinced that the job will ever wind up in the dust bin of history. Granted, newspaper circulation has been dropping during the past 20 years. But in many cases, the decrease of hard-copy newspaper sales has been more than offset by an increase in website traffic.
    So if you eliminate the word “newspaper” from the reporter’s job description, I think you’ll see growth instead of shrinkage.
    Click on Google, Yahoo or any other news Internet site. There are hundreds of stories available with a few mouse clicks. But how did they get there? Easy answer: somebody had to gather the information, write it, edit it and design the pages where it’s placed.
    It doesn’t make any difference whether you’re reading a hard copy or viewing the issue on your iPad. Someone has to create it.
    That’s us. We’re still showing up at your selectmen’s meetings, parades, school science fairs, festivals, 100th birthday parties, open houses, high school basketball games, traffic accidents and crime scenes.
    Our job is to be in places where you can’t be and let you know what happened. In most cases, weekly newspapers are your only source of local news — and that’s fine with us.
    I’m sort of a dinosaur since I still like to kick back in the recliner and hold a newspaper or magazine in my hand instead of a tablet or smartphone. For example, I read Columbia Journalism Review online, but still look forward to getting the magazine in the mail.
    So while we’re on the endangered species list, we’re in good company. The American bald eagle is endangered, but we still see plenty of them around. With a little care and consideration, they’ll never be extinct — and neither will reporters.
    Or as another famous Yogi Berra quote puts it, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
    Mike Lange is a staff writer with the Piscataquis Observer. His opinions are his own and don’t necessarily reflect those of this newspaper.

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