Ryan Sholin offers a great list of things journalists need to understand about the future. See here: 10 obvious things about the future of newspapers you need to get. I’d suggest you read the whole thing, and then come back. #
As is my wont, I’m going to add a few college media-specific comments to Ryan’s list – and take off some things that aren’t as applicable to your situation. These are things we as advisers and student journalists should take heed of (Ryan’s original comments are in italics. My additions are in bold). #
- “Reporters need to do more than write. The new world calls for a new skillset, and you and Mr. Notebook need to make some new friends, like Mr. Microphone and Mr. Point & Shoot.” You need to have digital audio recorders and digital cameras available for your reporters. Do you hear me? Now. Your photojournalists need to be shooting audio and video. Don’t believe me, ask the folks at the NPPA. Ask Hunter Wilson. I’m not alone in this sentiment.
- J-schools can either play a critical role in training the next generation of journalists, or they can fade into irrelevancy. Teach multimedia, interactivity and data, or watch your students become frustrated and puzzled as they try to get jobs with five clips and a smile. I’m not going to say this about j-schools. I’m pointing the finger at college media outlets. Let me go on record as saying that the most crucial training I received as a college mass comm. major was during my time at the University Press at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world. I don’t want to ever see college media lose their position as the place to go for practical training to prepare for a future career in journalism. But if you’re not preparing students for a new media future, you’re losing it fast – if you haven’t lost it already.
- You ignore new delivery systems at your own peril. RSS, SMS, iPhone, e-paper, Blackberry, widgets, podcasts, vlogs, Facebook, Twitter â€” these arenâ€™t the competition, these are your new carriers. Learn how to deliver your content across every new technology that comes into view on the horizon, and be there when new devices go into mass production. This is an area where college media needs to focus quickly. I’ve surveyed college media, and a lot of folks don’t take mobile delivery seriously yet. While it may not be the preferred method for your college media outlet, get this through your head: you’re not just training students for the here and now. Doug Fisher says he’s training students to write 140 word stories for mobile content. Are you?
- Nobody is going to weep if college media doesn’t meet this need. Yes. You heard me right. Professional newspapers have been angling for college audiences for years. The entry of Biglicku.com into the social media space just shows that they are still there. The difference with new media is access. Big papers don’t need a readership program, or racks on campus, to steal your readers. And many j-schools don’t care either. They have their own new media training efforts going. They don’t need you.
- This is not rocket science. The biggest obstacle to embracing a new media means of storytelling is your own obstinance. There. I’ve said it. You can do this. It doesn’t take a lifetime of learning Flash, or whiz-kid programmers (although that can definitely help). It does take a desire to look at the web as a first platform for storytelling.
- Think beyond your brand. The college newspaper has a storied history. Nobody wants to diminish that. But would it hurt you to look beyond your brand – the Daily Whatchamacallit – and explore some other options. Local stories for a local audience, pushed outside the brand, is something that will benefit you long term. Think bakotopia. Think lawrence.com. Those are not things that are outside of the ability of college media organizations to attempt. Just try it. Be bold. Be innovative. It takes less than $20 to register a domain name. You can do this. If you aren’t, who knows when the local daily will be.
- Okay, here comes the big one: THE GLASS IS HALF FULL. This is the thing you’ll find among almost everyone who follows new media closely – from Sholin, to Howard Owens, to Mindy McAdams, to Rob Curley to Adrian Holovaty, etc., etc. There’s a lot of great new media journalism going on. You need to become familiar with it. You need to help your students understand it. You need to point them to the web and encourage them to think innovatively.