One of the few regrets I have from my Cavalier Daily days is not getting a negative of my first story. This was a tradition among those who had been around a while. Unfortunately, I arrived in the basement of Newcomb right as the paper was phasing out its old preflight process in favor of the cheaper and quicker method of e-mailing PDFs.
For me, the negatives marked the “old tradition” much as, for some other alumni, the transition from typewriters and cut-and-paste layouts may have been a sign of the times. Although the need to make way for progress was never in question, there was always the slight lament at losing something tangible along the way.
In the past decade, however, journalists in both the newsroom and the classroom have grappled with an even bigger dilemma: Is it worth promoting print at all?
As a high school journalism teacher, the changes in the print paradigm are often at the forefront of my mind. On one hand, there is the expectation that the skills we teach will be of some value to students in their future careers. On the other hand, the pace at which technology is moving means that even the most cutting-edge approaches may soon be old news.
Compounding the problem are limits in resources like computers, software and cameras, as well as restrictions on social media (implemented in the interest of student privacy) that many journalism teachers must work around.
There is no obvious solution this time. Those lucky enough to have the necessary resources, support and skills may try their best to stay ahead of the curve. For others, though, the values that informed print journalism can still carry on in the digital world.
Whatever the outlet, journalists still must learn how to use it responsibly: how to interview sources, how to distinguish between news and opinion, how to check their facts, spelling and AP Style. If journalists were to abandon these values then, no, it would not be worth teaching print—nor any other medium for that matter.