Monday, February 09, 2004

Thoughts from Poynter – Day one
I'm listening to Kansas j-school Dean Jimmy Gentry discuss reasons for convergence in the industry, and as soon as I hear the top three -- brand extension, more and better content, and cross-promotion and marketing – I find myself thinking these are the same things many j-schools face inside their institutions. So if there’s a reason to at least consider teaching it ...

Howard Finberg on the future of news reinforced what many of us forget: Many of our students already use media much differently than we might. As two younger Poynter staffers noted, one of their important ways of staying abreast of things is their social network, the "Hey, have you seen this?" method of agenda setting.

But let me suggest a radical notion: the medium is not the message.
Well, OK, in a sense it is because technology will let the audience have more hand in shaping the individual messages its members want to receive.
But good, solid journalism at its core already is multimedia.
The best reporters already strive when covering a trial to try to get copies of the exhibits (in the brave "new" world, think raw material for creating a database, links to document images, etc.). The best ones covering the budget, and who want front-page or A-block play, are thinking about how to tell the story visually – both in words and pictures (and maybe in the new world, we add sound). And that way of thinking should apply to any story: get as much of the raw material as you can so you can be sure of what you write or speak, and look for ways to connect with your reader, viewer or surfer.
We need to be teaching a mindset, not necessarily a specific skillset. If this basic journalism is taught and done correctly, we’ll have the pictures, the documents and the other materials from which we can be build the multimedia our desires promote and our resources allow. Without these basics, all the Flash in the world won’t help.

I’d rather have a journalist who puts the extra effort into the input – the reporting – than one whose efforts are so diluted by cross-media output that the basic reporting never is done satisfactorily.

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