Are we getting dumber?

Friday, September 2, 2011

I began the journey to finish my college degree over a year ago, and I was terrified. The course load along with working and other activities were worrisome to say the least. I knew the undertaking would be challenging, but ultimately decided it was the path I needed to take. Flash forward to my first evening I sat down to read my first chapter, and I recall vividly the ADHD symptoms (that I had never previously experienced) take over my body. I thought to myself, how can anyone sit and read this much for this long?

Well, my question seems to have been finally answered by Nicholas Carr quite simply in that we cannot. His article in The Atlantic describes this epidemic as the result of the way we absorb information on the Internet, and that it is in fact making us "stupid." "What the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation." I could not agree more, and I was delighted to find out that I was not alone in my dread of the wordy- reading. I was not delighted, however, to learn that these quick-read habits could be affecting my intelligence.

We are a society that relishes in instant gratification, and that has now parlayed into the way we want to consume information. Few pick up a newspaper and read it cover to cover. Rather, they hop on the web, cruise over a few major headlines, and feel quite satisfied...for the moment anyway. It is this new behavior instilled in us from the Internet that has transferred over into our behavior with all types of reading, and appears to be verging on detrimental.

Bruce Friedman, a blogger himself stated, "even a blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it." Because this is a learned behavior, is it possible to unlearn it? If we commit to taking in an entire article on the Internet, will it help change patterns in contently finishing in entirety a news story? I for one am willing to give it try. And to not bore Mr. Friedman if he happens to be reading this, I will end before a fifth paragraph has the opportunity to make this a "skim" worthy post.


Beating the Competition - Setting Yourself Apart as a Journalist

Regardless of whether a person is currently working hard at obtaining their Journalism degree or has recently graduated from college with a Journalism degree, there are many things that can be done to prepare for the competitive job market. As a new journalist, the resume has to be impressive in order to compete with veteran journalists, as well as the floods of aspiring journalists every Spring. The bright side: there is a lot you can be doing now that will benefit you in the future.

One of these is blogging. By creating and maintaining a blog, with at least two blog posts a week, it will show prospective employers that you have the ability to write and produce articles on a regular basis. In the writing world, the words "Writer's Block" may be an acceptable excuse, but deadlines have to be met in the journalism world. And unless you plan on being only an editorial journalist, blogs consisting of pure opinion are probably not the putting your best foot forward.

Another is networking with professionals. Put of all of your available resources to good use, whether that means digitally or the old-fashioned way. An article on 10000 Words suggests using any business cards you have collected so far from guest lecturers or professionals. By contacting these people, you may be able to get some post-graduation advice and could even stand to make a beneficial connection.

Potential job leads can come from these professionals. This also includes your professors. Even if they can't direct you on where to land your first big job, they might be willing to be used as a reference.

The third thing you can do is to establish yourself everywhere online. People everywhere are connected to the internet. The best way to get yourself, and those blogs mentioned above, noticed is to have a strong online presence. Simply having a Twitter account and a Facebook account does not qualify. Revamp your existing profiles to make them more professional. Network with others in the journalism profession, as well as other related fields where you could potentially beneficial contacts.

Use these accounts. Among a large list of 30 things that a Journalism Grad should do are posting 100 pictures to Flickr and maintaining a Delicious account with at least 50 links you find interesting. Using these sources often, and keeping them current, will keep your name out there for prospective employers to find.

Perhaps the most important piece of advice comes from the words of a professional, who was speaking at an International Symposium on Online Journalism.

school is just the beginning of learning. At the core is good writing and reporting, regardless of the medium. But to stand out from the crowd, journalism graduates should follow their passions, develop an area of specialization and master that area.
It seems logical that a journalist should follow their passions. If your heart is in your writing, it will be reflected by the quality that is produced. And those are the articles that you'll want prospective employers to see, because those are the ones that might lead to hearing, "You're hired!"

Photo courtesy of deanmeyersnet's Flickr via Creative Commons.


  © Blogger template On The Road by 2009

Back to TOP