Routledge is pleased to share with you our author Q&A session with Scott Reinardy, author of Journalism’s Lost Generation and co-author of The Essentials of Sports Reporting and Writing: 2nd Edition. Scott is a professor in the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas and has received eight top research paper awards among national and international journalism and mass communications organizations. Scott was also elected the inaugural chair for the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s Sports Interest Group, 2010-2011.
What inspired you to write Journalism’s Lost Generation?
The book was not simply a product of academic research. For nearly 15 years the newspaper newsroom was my life. My experiences as a newsworker cultivated the primary issues addressed in the book. I saw first-hand the stress and burnout, the dissatisfaction, the depletion of resources and staff while the remaining workers were asked to do more. I wanted to accurately document the plight of the newsworker during a seismic shift in the industry. Journalists generally do a terrible job of telling their own story. I wanted assist in telling that story with statistical data and anecdotes. For better or worse, I still consider newspaper journalists my people. I was hoping to provide a voice to those who might be afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs.
What makes your book stand out from its competitors?
Many books have been written about the circumstances facing newspapers during the past 10 years. Most discuss the economics or shifting audiences or digital content. What wasn’t being discussed were the newsworkers. People are the most valuable asset in any organization, yet for researchers, during this colossal shift in the newspaper industry the journalists were portrayed as bystanders. This work tells the story through the eyes of those at the epicenter of this shift. Although it does not ignore the economics, audience fragmentation and development of digital content, this work puts a face to those in the maelstrom of those issues.
What did you enjoy about writing the book?
This was not a work of enjoyment but of obligation. For more than a decade newspaper journalists have allowed me to peer into their worlds. They have answered my unrelenting questions and spoken with me in interviews. They have invited me into their newsrooms to observe their work. I felt it was my duty to properly and accurately tell their story. At times, it was not a happy story. During interviews, journalists displayed their anger, fear and frustration. Hardened journalists sometimes could not hold back tears as they discussed how a career they loved crumbled beneath them. I didn’t want to be an unengaged gawker at a crash site. I wanted to help journalists share their burden. My enjoyment was the great privilege I was afforded to tell a story that hadn’t been told. I only hope I did not fail.
Do you have plans for future books? What’s next in the pipeline for you?
I have two books in development, but neither has an academic or research emphasis. One manuscript is a work of fiction that tells the story of a boy growing in a drug-invested small Minnesota town during the 1970s. It’s a coming-of-age story about an elderly woman who operates a teenage hangout, a drug dealer, and a 13-year-old boy trying to find answers to a cascade of life questions. The other manuscript is a non-fiction account of my August 2015 heart transplant. It tells the improbable story of how my life and the life of my heart donor came to intersect in a matter of days, 500 miles apart, and how his tragedy became my salvation.
What advice would you give to an aspiring researcher in your field?
As an empirical researcher, I always want to provide information that is useful to the academia and the profession. I want to be relevant in both worlds. As a former newspaper journalist, I see research as a way of telling a story in a different way. Utilizing scientific methods and theoretical underpinnings, I can provide reliable and valid information that reaches beyond subjective notions and speculation. As academics, we are often charged with being disconnected from the professional world, conducting research in an echo chamber amid our ivory towers. I want to collaborate with professionals to discuss ideas and assist in resolving problems. Additionally, what I learn through my empirical research can be utilized in the classroom. I view it as my holistic responsibility as an educator and researcher to join the two worlds in the classroom and in the profession.
What is the last book you read (non-academic)?
Most recently I’ve read Viktor Frankl’s memoir Man’s Search For Meaning. Frankl was a trained psychiatrist when he became enmeshed in a series of Nazi concentration camps (including Auschwitz) during World War II. It’s a matter-of-fact, day-to-day account of the occurrences in these horrific camps followed by Frankl’s self-created analytical approach he named logotherapy. Logotherapy examines how people strive to find meaning in one’s life, particularly among those imprisoned. It’s a fascinating book that presents as many questions as answers.
Anything else you would like to add?
I must thank Routledge for the opportunity to publish Journalism’s Lost Generation and the opportunity to be a featured author. Special thanks to Routledge’s Ross Wagenhofer for his guidance and assistance through the years. My hope is that the book will provide better understanding and respect for those who are committed to doing great newswork. Newspaper newsroom survivors carry a tremendous responsibility. They should be duly recognized for their dedication and commitment.