January 13, 2019

This is one of 15 profiles in our series on journalism’s last decade. For the rest of the stories, visit “The Hardest Decade in Journalism?

In 2008, Peter Baugh was a sixth grader in St. Louis. His dreams, then, were not of journalism.

“At that point, I probably still holding onto hope that I could develop into a professional baseball player,” he said.

In 2018, he was a senior at the Missouri School of Journalism, set to graduate in the spring of 2019. Here’s what the last decade looked like to the youngest of this project’s voices.

What aren’t you doing now that you did expect to be doing 10 years ago?

I knew I wanted to be around sports, and I always loved writing.

How have newsroom layoffs impacted your work, your newsroom and the city where you live?

I grew up reading the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and the paper has had to make some budget cuts. I also wrote for the Columbia (Missouri) Daily Tribune in spring of 2018, and the paper had just made significant staff cuts. As an intern, I was covering Olympic sports and — just a year earlier — the Trib had a full-time staffer on that job.

What advice would 2018 you give 2008 you?

I’d tell myself to be open to all opportunities but not to sell myself short. Don’t be afraid to ask for compensation for work. Stand up for yourself but always be respectful. Read as much as your can, both journalism and literary works.

Where do you think you’ll be 10 years from now?

Hopefully in a major city writing sports feature stories.

What’s the best thing that’s happened in journalism in the past decade?

I think it’s more accessible to more audiences thanks to the internet. It’s easier to spread work around, and people can find stories to read that impact them. You can include multimedia elements like video or audio in stories much easier than 10 years ago.

What’s the worst thing that’s happened in journalism in the past decade?

I think there’s a growing pressure to have news first, which can lead to sensationalistic and inaccurate reporting. People need to vet sources to make sure what they hear is accurate. The growth of the internet and need for page views has led to clickbait stories, many of which aren’t valuable or enriching to readers.

What are you the most excited about now in your career?

Aside from a summer I spent studying abroad, I’ve lived in Missouri my whole life. I’m excited to explore a new place, engage with new communities, and find new stories. I’ve felt bogged down with school work recently, and I’m excited to put that chapter of my life behind me and work exclusively on journalism. I hope it will give me more time to work diligently on important stories.

What are you the most afraid of now in your career?

As a person about to graduate, there’s definitely a fear of not finding a job or not winding up in a place I’m happy. It’s both thrilling and daunting that I could be anywhere in the country.

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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