by Michael O'Neill
October 30th, 2013

Another top name in journalism has departed. Say good-bye to David Pogue, a brand-name technology columnist for the New York Times, who will now be working for Yahoo.

As a content marketer.

Pogue joins a long list of top-of-the-heap journalists bailing on newspapers and magazines to join the growing ranks of journalists working inside corporations. From Dan Lyons of Forbes going inside HubSpot to Ben Worthen of the Wall Street Journal joining Sequoia Capital, journalists are leaving the industry in droves.

In fact, the journalism jobs are at their lowest levels since 1978.

So here’s a question worth asking.

Are journalists becoming obsolete?

Are we witnessing the decline of a profession?

Will there be any such thing as journalists in 10 or 20 years? Will journalists join the ranks of other obsolete professions: Pony Express riders, telegraph operators, lamplighters, pinsetters or elevator operators? Or will it just become a niche profession like cobblers, blacksmiths and bookbinders?

While I’m being overdramatic, it isn’t as outrageous as it sounds.

Already companies are beginning to take control of their own content. Brand audiences on social media channels like Facebook and Twitter often surpass the reach of mainstream media outlets that of newspapers. Let this sink in for a minute: There are twice as many people following Starbucks on Facebook than the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, FOX-News, MSNBC and USA Today combined.

COMBINED!

Why does Starbucks need the media to communicate to its customers and external audiences? It doesn’t.

Brands are learning to report on their own news – instead of giving it to third-party media companies. Brands have opened digital newsroom and have content creation strategies to publish their own content. And they are hiring professional writers, producers and journalists to create that content.

As a former journalist myself, I know that media companies just don’t report on brands. But other sources are undermining journalism. Sports news has been largely overtaken by fans – blogging, tweeting and using platforms like Tumblr. Who goes to the daily newspaper for sports news?

Movie, book and food coverage has also been taken over by amateurs and part-time professionals.

Will our news on politics, government and world events soon follow?

What do you think?

George F. Snell III is senior vice-president, digital & social communications, at Weber Shandwick Boston.

This article first appeared on Snell’s blog High Talk

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