I'm writing in reaction to the debate about Hooligan. I recently transferred from Norwich University, a conservative military college located in central Vermont, to the University of Alaska Southeast. I have picked up issues of the Juneau Empire and skimmed through the pages to see examples of how the paper might differ from the types of publications I'm used to seeing back home.
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The question of content comes to mind, as I sit here staring at the controversial story on sex toys found in the Hooligan, an insert marketed toward a 20- to 35-year-old audience. People seem to be outraged to see this type of print in their hometown publication, yet many are praising the Hooligan for daring to be unconventional and racy. My dilemma on the matter is what I would say is a common one faced by all young aspiring journalists. It is no secret that the times are a changing. As cliché as that sounds, it is true. Journalism has evolved over the years, and I fear what the new age might hold for a profession I hold dear to me.
Journalism is a powerful profession, and when I write, I write with the knowledge that I'm writing the story to the best of my ability. When I finish a piece, I know that it is up on the block. It's up to someone else whether or not it makes the final cut. I'm realistic when I look at my articles in print. I know not everyone is going to read it. But I also know that, for a few, the headline will spark some interest, and they will read on with vigor. I'd like to believe that if something is well written, it will draw more attention from the readers. Nevertheless, you can never really tell - you just have to cross your fingers and hope.
The question of what should be made the news has been asked by editors for years. Traditionally, journalism has stuck to the principles of accuracy and portraying the events deemed newsworthy in the most unbiased of ways. I have heard the term used over and over again in classrooms discussing the topic: Fair and balanced is the aim, they say.
The concept I struggle with now has been dominate in society for the past decade or two, prevailing in my generation. I feel more and more, as I look around, that the principles and integrity of journalism have become slightly skewed. Nevertheless, good journalism still strives and exists. There is no substitute for good writing. Though the new material might be considered smut, I look at it and realize that there is a melting pot of interests out there, and I understand the need to broaden horizons and dive into untested waters. I would go so far as to argue that the sex-toy story was well written. Compositionally, I would have more complaints about some of the other articles, ones that the general populace would probably find less offensive.
Some argue newspapers are a thing of the past. Other media will take the reigns and snuff out a "tradition of words." I also have read somewhere that sales have been at a decline, and I know there are far fewer papers in publication than there were at the industry's height. But I refuse to believe that the kind of journalism that has existed for years will die off. People do still care about what is going on in the world. It is just now that newspapers compete with other media. Though I have read and reflected over the comments left by readers who have been less than happy about the change in their local paper, I support the step you are taking to revive a piece of your publication that was floundering. My only request is that you keep the caliber of journalism to a professional level. I look forward to exploring the publication further.
Laura Lemire is a 20-year-old Communications major at the University of Alaska Southeast.
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