Why Independent Media is Important to Young People

Growing up, I always wanted to be a journalist. It didn’t matter if I was on TV, radio, or writing for a newspaper, I knew when I grew up I would be the lady who “did the news.”  My grandfather lived with us when I was a kid, and I always joke that I spent more time watching CNN, CBC, and BBC than I ever did watching cartoons. It didn’t really surprise me when I went to college and learned that the majority of people who watch the news are over 60. I knew I was going to be someone’s grandmother’s favorite reporter.

I interned for several different mainstream media outlets when I was in school, as well as a few independent stations and news operations. Once I graduated I started working for a major news outlet and there was one thing I missed: writing stories that I cared about. 

While working for smaller outlets I found that my opinion and my interests were valued; I was the youth perspective. I was usually covering stories that took the pulse of the city. I was reporting on the things that my friends and I cared about. But working for larger stations meant breaking “big stories” and covering things like tax reform and newly created bike lanes. Politics always trumps human interest. No one wanted me to cover stories about kids who had overcome rare forms of cancer, or people who were doing amazing things in the community. 

It was then that I realized that even though I’d landed my “dream job” I wasn’t living the dream. I could completely understand that there was a need to share what was going on in the world. Elections, wars, climate change, those things are all important, but I wasn’t doing what I love, I wasn’t sharing people’s stories. 

Covering stories that happen in the community, means covering stories that are happening to people. People care about politics and the pandemic, but they also care about the movers, shakers, and groundbreakers. The man who invented shoes that can grow a tree. The first Black woman in the House of Commons. The people who took risks and created change. That’s why Buzzfeed, Narcity, and The Brandon Gonez Show are so popular. They care about what their audience cares about. 

In hindsight, I think that’s part of the reason that “legacy media” is becoming less and less popular with younger generations. Outside of friends I know through work, I don’t have any friends who watch the news on TV or listen to it on the radio. I definitely don’t have any friends who subscribe to newspapers. The majority of millennials get their news from the internet, from social media. This is why groundbreaking independent outlets living digitally are becoming so popular. They’re digestible, and they’re accessible. Everything anyone needs to know can be found right at their fingertips.

I did grow up to be a journalist, a reporter, a writer, but I was also fortunate enough to enter the industry at a time where the world was changing and the news was created with the millennial generation in mind. Independent journalism is important because it leaves so much room for learning and sharing, which breed thought-provoking stories. 

I hope independent and small newsrooms inspire other outlets to create content that would attract another generation to become journalists. So future generations fall in love with the news. That’s why I became a journalist.

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