Journalists afraid to take on multiple forms of storytelling, we’re ready to take your spot

23 Apr

I may not make many friends with this post, but I’ll risk it anyway.

Today, the 11th annual International Symposium on Online Journalism began and will run through Saturday. Since I was unable to attend today (gotta work to pay the bills), I observed tweets from the symposium and took part in some of the conversation.

One tweet in particular by San Antonio Express-News reporter Eva Ruth Moravec caught my attention, which you can see here. John Paton, the CEO of the Journal Register Company, said media organizations need to downsize their staff so that three people can do 10 jobs versus the current model where 10 people are doing one of those 10 jobs. The #scary hashtag in that tweet really got me thinking about what media organizations are doing.

Journalists shouldn’t consider this a scary thing. They should embrace it and take advantage of it. Paton has a great vision for his company and I am hoping it succeeds. While it is sad to see anyone lose jobs, if journalists are not embracing technology and learning different ways to tell a story, then they aren’t doing their job. It’s only hurting the product they produce and the audience they serve. To that end, I say you probably will be laid off and rightfully so.

I think this old-school mentality is hurting newsrooms and it frustrates me. I see so many talented, young journalists graduating from college, but they’re working as freelancers or in related fields when they should be working for a media organization. Truthfully, I feel I am one of those people. I graduated with my master’s degree in mass communication-new media from Texas State University-San Marcos and worked very hard to try to get a job at a media organization. I managed to get a journalism job after graduation, but the situation didn’t work out and I felt like I didn’t give myself the chance to weigh other options. Now I’m doing some freelance web and writing work, which I do enjoy, but the full-time journalist position eludes me for the time being. I guess I just want to make sure getting my master’s (and bachelor’s) degree wasn’t in vain. I really love journalism and realize what a passion I have for it.

Nonetheless, I, like many of my fellow recent journalism school grads, will continue to toil away on our blogs, sharpen our social media skills, and learn more about video editing or creating our portfolio sites while we send resume after resume out. We don’t do it because we feel we have to. We do it because we love it.

The truth is, you aren’t just a journalist anymore. You are a multimedia producer. That means you need to be able to write a good story, shoot photos, put together a great character-driven narrative video, and maybe know a little graphic design and HTML. If you really love this industry, you’ll stick around to learn different modes of storytelling. Otherwise, move out of the way. The 20-somethings are eager to take your spot.

 

 

4 Responses to “Journalists afraid to take on multiple forms of storytelling, we’re ready to take your spot”

  1. Alex Gamela April 24, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

    “The truth is, you aren’t just a journalist anymore. You are a multimedia producer. That means you need to be able to write a good story, shoot photos, put together a great character-driven narrative video, and maybe know a little graphic design and HTML. “I defended that in a recent presentation i gave (slides here http://www.slideshare.net/kotsa/novos-percursos-e-caractersticas-dos-contedos… ). But many young journalists still believe they will be working for television or magazines, the old fashioned way.

  2. Maira Garcia April 24, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    I would agree with you, Alex. I always encountered students with that mindset. They thought they would be working for Rolling Stone right after graduation. When I was a graduate assistant teaching an intro mass media course, I made sure to emphasize the reality. I think it’s important for teachers/professors to do this. We just have to hope it sinks in.

  3. C.W. Anderson April 24, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

    Maria,I think this post is great, and could certainly start a much-needed conversation.I will simply add this: you may be 20 now, but someday you will be forty. While I’m sure — intellectually — you can imagine that you will be just as hungry, hard working, and ready to adapt to new technologies or suffer the consequences at 40 as you are at 20 … well. We’ll see.I think this is the way journalism is heading, and I don’t there’s anything we should do to stop it. I don’t want to stop it. But I do occasionally worry about the social consequences of creating a democratic communication system which puts so much of its emphasis on the goodwill of the easy-adapters, or the young and willing to starve.

  4. Maira Garcia April 24, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

    I guess I’m more optimistic when it comes to democratic communication. We can’t be gatekeepers anymore, only curators. People will produce content regardless, whether it’s under the branding of a major media organization or not.

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