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AfterWord: Whitworth alumni in their own words

Today's Hard Copy News Is Old News
by Aimee Goodwin, '04

The night of the presidential election, I frantically told any editor who would listen, "The Electoral College vote numbers don't add up to 538 in the graphic!" Around 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 4, 2008, that was my biggest concern as copy chief of Express, The Washington Post's free daily commuter newspaper in Washington, D.C. As the publication's sole copy editor, I was under intense pressure that night. I had to make sure the newspaper was as error-free as possible, since the issue we were producing contained history-making news and, therefore, might be saved for years. (In fact, the day after the election, Express was being sold on eBay for $10.)

Documenting history comes with a price, though. I didn't get to sit back and realize the magnitude of what had happened on election night until I got home from work the next morning, exhausted and sick of red state-blue state maps. Not until hours later did I learn people had been dancing and shouting in the streets near the White House and in other D.C.-area neighborhoods after Barack Obama was named President of the United States.

I'm still amazed that I was working for a D.C.-area newspaper that night, considering the fact that just eight years ago I was a freshman Pirate. I worked for The Whitworthian as a reporter my freshman and sophomore years, as the news editor my junior year, and as the copy editor my senior year. Applying what I learned in my journalism classes to my work for The Whitworthian proved to prepare me well for what God had in store for me after graduation.

I entered the journalism industry when jobs were easier to find than they are now. I spent the summer after graduating from Whitworth working as a layout and design intern on the news desk at The Washington Times in Washington, D.C. I landed a fulltime job as a copy editor at the paper and moved to the D.C. area permanently. I've been here almost five years.

I love living in D.C. I enjoy being where the action is and the opportunities D.C. presents. My faith, communication skills and, of course, politics have been challenged in a place where partisanship and networking rule. I've been encouraged by the Christians I've met who are involved in government and the passion they have for their work. There's something thrilling to me about driving by the Capitol at night and seeing the lights on in the dome, knowing Congress is still at work; seeing Marine One fly overhead; hanging out with a reporter who has traveled aboard Air Force One; and witnessing the filming of the final episode of The West Wing. In January 2009 I came full circle in a way, when I met with Whitworth's Media Impact Jan Term study group in D.C., and shared with them my journalism experiences and discussed how the field is changing.

The current journalism industry does not mirror the journalism industry I grew up wanting to be a part of. News that's in print today likely hit the Internet yesterday, just minutes after it happened. Newspapers have to compete with bloggers, who can break stories without facing accountability. Many newspapers have implemented hiring freezes, laid employees off or trimmed content to make up for budget shortfalls due to lack of subscribers and advertising. Some newspapers - such as the Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer - have ceased hard-copy production, making Denver and Seattle one-newspaper (and, some might say, one-viewpoint) towns. The industry has realized that, in general, in this fastpaced, web-driven world, the future (and profitability) of newspapers is in online, multimedia formats, not newsprint.

As I'm writing this, I am thankful to still be employed; Express has a nontraditional, quick-read format that targets the mass transit commuters in the D.C. area, who still need reading material. This is one format in which hard-copy news could survive and even thrive. Stopping all the printing presses and going to an onlineonly newspaper format would surely save a lot of trees, but it would also limit readers to only those with Internet access, and it would deny journalists the thrill of having their work appear on the front page, above the fold and displayed in a street-corner newspaper box for all to see.

Aimee Goodwin graduated from Whitworth
in 2004 with a B.A. in journalism and mass communication.

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