Encouraging Words From The Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith

Evan Smith, CEO and editor-in-chief of the nonprofit news organization The Texas Tribune, held a compelling talk with the students of Texas State during Mass Communication Week.

Photo of Evan Smith and Becky Larson taken by Hanna Foster
Photo of Evan Smith and Becky Larson taken by Hanna Foster

Among the many things that Smith touched on during his panel, he talked about how, despite what many people say, now is the best time to become a part of the industry.

“Chaos creates opportunity,” Smith said. “Talented people can do good work in bad times.”

Smith doesn’t disagree that these are turbulent times in the industry of mass communication, but he argues that this turbulence is creating opportunity. He capitalized on how students shouldn’t become discouraged by the negativity that is always associated with journalism, particularly right now. He even said the he wished he was able to have started out in the industry during a time like this. Graduate student, Becky Larson, asked Smith questions regarding the industry, his workplace, and his view of young people as media consumers.

“What is your attitude toward younger consumers?” Larson said.

“The scapegoating of younger people as the problem in our industry is bullshit,” Smith said. “Young people aren’t the problem,  young people are the solution.”

Smith went on to discuss how young people are simply the new generation of consumers and that in order for media companies to survive, they need to adapt to their new audience. He then spoke about the importance of a news room looking like it’s audience.

“demographic inevitability drives everything.” Smith said.

The state’s demographics look drastically different than they originally did when the Tribune was first beginning in the 1970’s, and it is always changing. It is important for a news room to have accurate representation of its audience.

Jazmine Gregory, a sophomore journalism and mass communication major, asked Smith for advice to a young mass communication professional. His biggest piece of advice was to read the news and stay plugged in.

“Constantly be reading across media platforms.” Smith said. “And think of ways that people like you want to receive media, then create it.”

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