Sunday, August 10, 2008

Link: Where's journalism going?

Maegan Carberry suggested journalism students focus on being versatile in her first Editor & Publisher blog since its introduction last week.

Visit "Do Young Journos Have a Future? And Will It Be Dumb?" to read the Editor & Publisher article.

She suggested that journalists need to recognize that they are storytellers. Gather the facts and be skilled enough to present the information in a variety of mediums. She also suggested that young journalists figure out ways newspapers can foster new revenue streams.

Honestly, her blog entry doesn't say too much I didn't already know. Journalists need to be innovative and versatile. Researching, interviewing and writing no longer make up a sufficient skill set. Journalists need to be unafraid to record audio for podcasts, produce short videos and interact with readers more than in the past.

It all doesn't seem to be new to me.

And I've been thinking a lot about this.

I think newspapers are soon going to find themselves in the position of college newspaper editor trying to hire a graphic designer. When I was the editor in chief of The State Hornet, I used MySpace to hunt for staff members. I searched for majors and minors in journalism, government-journalism, public relations, communication studies, photography and graphic design. I made my pitch and tested interest. Graphic editor was my last hire before the start of the semester. It was also one of the most difficult.

Graphic design majors were either too skilled or not skilled enough. Talented graphic artists could find better pay elsewhere and the newbies weren't qualified to be an editor. I was lucky to find the person who would become the graphic editor.

Newspapers might soon get themselves in this position. Students are being told that they need to be versatile. They're told to have a variety of skills, and while they build these skills, jobs are cut and hiring freezes continue. Students will look elsewhere.

I wonder, where will the young journalists be when, and if, the hiring freezes end?

The Sacramento region doesn't offer too many internship and entry-level positions since The Sacramento Bee decided not to replace many entry-level positions in the Sports, News and Features departments. Many positions at media organizations are unpaid, for-credit internships. You'd need to cobble together a bunch of jobs to make ends meet freelancing. I know that's the name of the game; it doesn't make it any more reassuring.

So, skills are one thing. Access is another.

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