If the Internet scares you, try this
For a lot of journalists (and journalism students), the Internet is still a big scary place with things like XML, PHP, AJAX, XHTML and lots of other low-flying abbreviations.
Oh sure, they know how to Google and maybe use some databases online. But lurking out there is "geekdom" -- you know, that mystical land where they can make really cool stuff happen on a Web page and you just know that that's the skills stuff they're going to be looking for and I can't learn all this coding and ...
Slow down, Bunky. As many have said, you won't necessarily have to be a code jockey to be a journalist. But it will be useful to know the sorts of things that can be done and the effort and resources needed to do them.
Into the picture comes Zac Echola, whose blog I have started reading recently and who has some very down-to-earth thoughts on all of this. In catching up on some of his posts, I found two very good ones I'd point you to.
- First is his "Code on deadline (or how I learned to program without actually doing any programming." His point is that there are a ton of free services out there that, when cobbled together, provide much of the same functionality a raw code would.
- Second is the example he posted later, "Simple and free online journalism project to do in 45 minutes"
in which he shows you how to harness some of these services - Google reader, Feedburner and Twitter -- to land weather alerts on your home page.
And even if you don't have mad programming skills, you still are going to have to be able, in the future, to discuss with others in the newsroom the online possibilities, so it doesn't hurt to know the jargon and a little bit how to do it quick and dirty.
This is what I'm trying to produce -- young reporters and editors who know enough at least to converse intelligently in a multimedia newsroom. Echola shows that it's pretty easy to do in this Web 2.0 world where the operative word is "share."