links for 2007-01-17

Journalism students need new heroes

Shortly after I joined the Guardian, Neil McIntosh, our head of editorial development, came back from talking to a journalism class. He was shaking his head. The students, who will be the future on journalism, were living in the past. They aspired to be columnists and commentators for newspapers. They were uninterested in multimedia journalism and uninformed about trends that are rocking the industry. We both agreed. They need new heroes.

What brought this all to mind was a post by Mindy McAdams, who belongs in every journalist’s RSS feeds. She has some sage advice for students and her fellow journalism educators in a great post on how to land and keep a job in journalism. She rifles though recent announcements about layoffs at major newspapers and what newspaper managers are looking for in new hires.

Martin Stabe has a great post looking at the great blog dialogue that Mindy’s comments set off. He said: “Journalism students … seem to aspire to work in some newsroom circa 1973”. Martin’s posts links off to posts and articles by Howard Owens, Steve Outing and Paul Conley. Students and journalists who want to get up to speed with what is happening in the industry would be wise to go through these posts, subscribe to these journalist bloggers. They are at the sharp end of these changes, and they know a lot about what works and what doesn’t.

There was some talk about exactly what skills students and journalists need in to compete. Do they need to learn how to code? Do they need to focus on A/V skills? Do they need to learn Flash? I’ve always been very wary about suggesting too much investment in any specific piece of software. The industry moves too fast. Instead, I’d echo what Rob Curley says:

Skillset is important. But mindset is most important.

Damn, I wish I would have said that. I’ve picked up the skillset because of my mindset. I can only think of one instance when I said: “That’s not my job.” New tasks are always an opportunity to learn new skills.

Whenever I speak to students, instead of saying that they need to learn Flash, or Final Cut or Rails, I say you need to learn reporting, audio-visual storytelling and research. You don’t need to know how to do everything on your own, but you need to know what is possible and doable in this digital age. The software will change. The technology will change so most importantly, you need to be nimble and curious. Your degree is not the destination. It’s only the first step in your education. Never stop learning. Never stop stretching. Evolution and the occasional revolution is the only way to survive change.

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Strange Attractor Podcast III: Web 2.0 myths, blog fuckwittery and Twitter

Suw and I have been away from podcasting for a while. It’s only been 107 days, Odeo tells me, since the last podcast. Erk. Sorry.

We decided to relegate Suw’s tried but tired £7.99 Tandy-special plastic microphone and get a nice Sennheiser. It was giving both Suw, and the mic, psychological complexes after interviewees (including our friend, Euan Semple), chortled at the poor thing. If we ever get around to having little podcasters, I’m sure it will return to service.

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We begin the podcast by groveling and begging for forgiveness for not podcasting more frequently. Quickly moving on from self-flagellation, we restore confidence in our own superiority by rubbishing the Daily Mail (1:25), and a particularly shitty column on blogging. Listen to me put on my best crusty, faux-posh British accent. If you’re still listening, we move on quickly to trashing Forrester (2:28) and a pay-for report about this whole Web 2.0 thingumy. Suw was directed to it by a super-secret squirrel contact so she could rubbish it. She obliged. Then, having not had enough of rubbishing clueless online efforts, we make fun of The Independent and their ahem… blogs (4:40). Oh, newsflash! They have actually updated the ‘blog’. Hell, the Indy’s bloggers – and I use that term loosely – took almost as long to post as Suw and I have to podcast.

After a brief description of mushy pees peas at 7:40, we discuss the criticisms that clued-up journalist Martin Stabe had of the Indy’s efforts. And just to highlight a great blog post, I’ll mention the questions that Andrew Grant-Adamson thinks editors should ask:

1. Does it do anything which cannot better be done in another section of the site?

2. Does it develop the paper’s interaction with the readers?

3. Does it gain a valuable audience? (A particular niche, readers who are new to the paper etc)

4. Can you give the blogger sufficient time to blog successfully?

5. Have you chosen a writer or writers who have the aptitude to blog successfully?

From 11:37, we talk about Twitter. Suw Twitters about it as we podcast.

If you want to download this as an MP3, you can download it here.

Suw and I have plans to podcast more often. She says, optimistically, once a week. Maybe when we get a portable recording device. Any suggestions?

links for 2007-01-12

links for 2007-01-08