Mizell Stewart emphasizes revitalization of print in local publications

While the popular opinion may be that careers at newspapers are waning, Mizell Stewart III disagrees.

Stewart, editor of the Evansville Courier & Press, who spoke Tuesday at Gregory Hall at 3:30 p.m., told students there are many opportunities if they look in the right places.

Stewart said between 2005 and 2010, revenue for print newspaper advertising fell 51 percent, and the combination of print and online newspaper advertising revenue fell 47 percent. But he said the newspaper industry still has a future.

“I am an optimist,” he said. “I firmly believe that the independent and local newspapers will survive.”

Stewart said the problem is not with the audience. He said the demand and consumption of news is still strong, but the problem lies with the economic model employed by news organizations.

“People consume news now more than ever. I can now watch the news at 4:30 in the morning,” he said. “The problem is financial. How do we pay for it?”

Stewart said he believes news media needs to find new models for creating revenue. He suggests subscription plans and cutting costs in terms of production.

“You can’t cut the cost of journalism without losing quality,” he said. “We can, however, make the production of the actual paper more efficient.”

New technologies and ideas are always popping up that make the method of producing the newspaper more cost efficient, he said.

Stewart told students and up-and-coming journalists not to lose hope about getting a job.

“There are jobs out there. They just might not be (in the location) where you want them,” he said. “The local newspapers are very much looking for new hires. You might have to work in Evansville instead of Chicago.”

Stewart said young people will have to adjust their expectations. Starting out, aspiring journalists and editors are probably not going to get a job at the Chicago Tribune.

Eric Meyer, professor in Journalism, said he has seen similar trends at the three weekly newspapers he runs in Kansas.

“We pay better than the dailies, and we still can’t get people to work here,” he said.

Dave Harbin, president of the University chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists and senior in Media, said the knowledge that opportunities at small, local papers exist was something he took away from Stewart’s lecture.

“I’m a senior heading into the job market,” he said. “I learned where I can get a job.”