When I first stepped my foot into the digital media world, I expected nothing more than to be a writer. Initially venturing into the field of journalism due my love of writing (in accordance with my passion for activism), I simply worked in a job in which I could thrive doing what I know best. While this was the case for a while, I soon realized that journalism is a rapidly evolving industry that encompasses a lot more than churning out articles- I needed to keep up.
My first experience with this reality occurred whilst writing for a publication known as Zainab Rights, where I worked as the lead social issues writer. Oblivious to the rapid pace of journalism, I was taken by surprise when, one day, my editor-in-chief emailed me to say that my social issues section was going to temporarily cease publishing articles. Though I was originally sad about the loss of my section, my editor offered me a consolation that seemed more like a punishment at the time: I would be the lead storyline writer on our new comic strip, instead. Lacking the wit and experience that I felt was crucial to being a comic strip writer, I was incredibly reluctant to embark on this unfamiliar territory. Despite the fact that I am still learning, however, I am thankful for this experience because it made me a better journalist by forcing me to be adaptable- arguably, one of the most important traits for a journalist to possess.
With the rise of technology and digital media, the ways through which we receive and share news are constantly changing and expanding. As print media declines, print journalists have to learn how to convey their stories through sound bytes and social media in order to keep up with our fast paced world that is constantly buzzing with the next big story, branding stories as ‘outdated’ in one day’s time. The same goes for any area of journalism; journalists can never get too comfortable in any one area, such as writing, photography, or video- now, they have to be well versed in all areas, and be willing to learn new skills if needed.
Although college curricula in journalistic fields of study are changing with the evolution of the media landscape by offering courses in coding, videography, and social media, they are still practically planning for an unpredictable future. Being well versed in all aspects of journalism is definitely advantageous to an aspiring journalist, but as the future of journalism is seemingly changing with every tweet and hashtag, a journalist’s greatest asset is a willingness to learn and grow.
Change is inevitable. We, as journalists, should embrace it, not resist it.
Zoya Wazir is a seventeen-year-old Muslim-American with a deep rooted passion for social activism and writing. She plans to double major in Journalism and Political Science in order to work toward achieving the change she wishes to see in the American media. In her fleeting free time, she also likes to create art, read celebrity autobiographies, and binge-watch Bollywood movies.