Some six years ago, I was at the neighborhood laundromat keeping to my own. It was the weekend and here were my grand plans – the mundane task of folding clothes and balling up socks that smelled like “Tropical Sunrise,” or rather, the mass production of an idea as if the sunrise itself could be bottled up and had a distinct scent with notes of citrus and florals.
Some creative in a cubicle was given the toilsome task of “Sniff this and tell us the first thing that comes to mind.” To me it just invokes the thought, “Smell me, I’m adulting and kicking butt at it.” Fragrant notes of “Yes, I own a duvet cover” and “My breakfast this morning was far more culinarily intricate than a bowl of Frosted Flakes” wafting in each sleeve. The fresh scent of, “Yes, I do my laundry on a timely basis,” instead of that newlypopped tag, department store smell of, “I only purchased this shirt because I have nothing clean left.”
The local news was playing on the old TV that the laundromat graciously provided for entertainment. It wasn’t a flat screen. It was a giant box from the Mesozoic Era that probably weighed a ton, but was precariously mounted on a sloped ledge on the wall.
‘Twas dangerous, but who cares? Did that reporter really just say something about a breaking and entering two blocks away?
Thank God for the media. If it wasn’t for journalism, we’d never know anything…seriously. You can stay informed while adulting. The laundry could’ve been done quicker, but I kept stopping to cock my head up at the screen. As I was
inattentively perfecting my little creases and folds, a man in his late sixties wearing a checkered flannel sweater and a worn Yankees cap said, “You’re really into the news.”
In a small neighborhood you’ll get those friendly types, the ones that like to spark up a conversation while your delicates are sprawled on the table.
“Oh,” I said, as I took my eyes off Roker’s weather forecast. “Makes sense that I am. I want to be a journalist.”
“Yeah? You wanna be on TV?”
“Print. I love writing.”
“That’s tough. Everything’s going digital now. The paper’s gonna be obsolete. You’re younger than me, you know that. You got the news in your pocket on your phone. I bet even you don’t spend 75 cents for the daily.” Real positive, this guy.
I had never thought of it that way until that point.
“I don’t think print will ever be obsolete,” I responded, half defiantly. “There’s still some print readers out there.”
“We’re a dying breed, kid. Literally. Your generation’s changing the game. Think about it.”
I did think about it. Old Man Flannel (I never got his name) disturbed me a little bit.
That laundry day left such an impression on me that six years later, in my last semester of journalism courses, I still remember this eyeopening conversation. He was right.
When was the last time I went to a newsstand to purchase the paper? In fact, I never got my news outside of the internet and television. I know, crucify the aspiring journalist who never got ink rubbed off onto the pad of her thumbs. But was that really so criminal of me? A quick Google search and the world was at my fingertips. I could learn anything in an instant rather than wait for it to appear in print next day (if it ever did). I guess Old Man Flannel had a point – I had to think outside of the box to make it in an evolving media industry. “Loving to write” didn’t have to be limited to just newsprint.
“We’re living in an age of digital Darwinism,” wrote Mark Briggs in his book “Journalism Next.” In my 25 years of life, I’ve seen cellphones turn into handheld
computers, Walkmans turn into iPods, books turn into Kindles and the internet become a living, breathing Hydra without a Heracles to subdue it. I knew what application meant before what it popularly means now. I, amongst other budding journalists, are at the forefront of the digital age.
“The transformation to digital started more than 15 years ago for news companies and the Web. If you’re just getting started in journalism, you benefit by having missed the early mess,” Briggs says my generation has a better chance and a bigger responsibility.
“The game isn’t over—it’s just getting started. And, since tomorrow’s journalists
inherently ‘get’ the Internet because they grew up with it, they have the opportunity to shape the future of journalism online as no generation has before.”
Change is good. All the cool kids are doing it.