Digital Media Toolbox
More people are watching news videos online, Pew Research data suggests. But fewer people make it past the one-minute mark. We can debate all day whether shortening news to fit 140-characters or 15 seconds is helping or hurting journalism and attention spans.
Ecclesiastes put it this way: “There’s nothing new under the sun.” I recall the Old Testament curmudgeon every time I come across another pundit proclaiming how journalism schools must teach every student “data-based journalism,” how to wrangle “big data,” and how to create “data visualizations” and “code.”
Being a gadget freak isn’t a requirement for being a journalist, but these days it helps to have some familiarity with the plethora of new stuff constantly being pushed into the consumer pipeline. While journalists learn to embrace new tech as part of their jobs, news audiences have also benefitted from the march of progress.
I was recently interviewed by a college student doing research on the “censorship” of comments by news organizations. From the idealistic tone of her inquiry, she revealed that she thought newsrooms hiring a staffer just to manage comments was an outrageous affront to the First Amendment.
I was appalled recently to hear a city editor from one of the top daily newspapers in the country tell a roomful of journalism students that they shouldn’t worry about learning multimedia or any digital skills, and that journalism to him was all about one thing: writing.
I’ve heard it for years from mid-career journalists, though not so much from the j-school students I work with today: “How am I supposed to keep up with all this new stuff?” That was when now-commonplace concepts such as blogging, social media and SEO were bewilderingly new to the established news media.
Hey, can you make me a free video? Gather a room full of student media advisors together and sooner or later the topic of “value” comes up. From what we teach to how we teach it, it seems many inside and outside of education do not consider media a discipline equal to similar pedagogies with practical experience like music, nursing, education and social work, just to name a few.
Barbara Selvin, a professor of journalism at Stony Brook University in New York, posted some interesting thoughts on her jrnteaching.com blog, saying “Newspapers should jettison (most of) their Web video efforts.” Ouch! This cuts a former (reformed?) broadcaster turned digital media journalism instructor deep.
Steve Buttry — who has the impressive if murky title of “digital transformation editor” for Digital First Media, which operates the combined properties of the Journal Register Company and MediaNews Group — spends a lot of his time speaking to full-time journalists and students.
Pinterest might have a reputation as a social network for sharing recipes and fashion tips, but news organizations are embracing it in innovating ways. In case you’re not acquainted, Pinterest is an image-based social network where users post links and photos onto different topic boards.
It’s the middle of summer break, and although most college students are scattered across the country, news unfortunately doesn’t stop for the ebb and flow of the academic calendar. In today’s environment, news is a 24/7, 365-days-a-year narrative. TV stations and daily newspapers have grasped that fact, and many are evolving their newsrooms strategies to “digital first” initiatives.
In the mad rush by journalists to become multilingual in the language of multimedia, a few finer points can get cropped out of the picture. Key among them: nuance. Lacking this, attempts at quality journalism will seem a little less so, to journalists as well as their audiences.
It seems ridiculously passé to tell journalists in 2012 that they should be blogging. That wasn’t the case just a few years ago, when I was told by one metro daily’s management that reporters absolutely would not be allowed to blog for the paper’s website.
In today’s journalism industry, it is imperative that journalists are active in their digital community. For decades, some journalists have been criticized for being distant, out of touch and elitist — and in many ways, we were. The high cost of content creation and distribution made it possible for members of the press to keep their distance from the community and interact with the public on their terms.
Ever write a story about a bunch of folks doing something, and it seems like you — and the reader — need a scorecard to keep everyone straight? Sometimes scorecards or diagrams aren’t such a bad idea. Say you’re a cops or courts reporter and you’re trying to explain to people the inner workings of a drug cartel.
Three years ago I quit my job at a mid-sized metro daily newspaper to be part of a startup online news operation. And ever since then I’ve had people coming up to me, emailing me, calling me, asking me about the startup news site they dream of launching.