Are Educators Ahead of Professional in Media Convergence?

5923352_300x300Fascinating research released this week from the Poynter Institute shows that when it comes to understanding the importance of learning multimedia skills and using digital tools, those working in college classrooms are far ahead of those working in professional newsrooms.  This research is in conflict with recent claims that journalism schools have been slow to react to the changing media landscape.

More than 2,900 educators, students, media professionals and independent journalists responded to the survey, which asked them the importance of 37 different skills and attributes for a “beginning journalist as he/she looks toward his/her career in the digital/mobile age.”

Professionals at media organizations rated the importance of all of the multimedia skills much lower than did educators, students and even independent or freelance journalists. Some examples:

* 45 percent of professionals thought it was important to very important that a journalist have the ability to shoot and edit video. However, three-fourths of educators in the survey thought video skills were important to very important.

*79 percent of educators said that photography skills — essential skills since most reporters today are equipped with smartphones or cameras — were important to very important. Fifty-three percent of professionals responded that the ability to shoot and edit photographs was important to very important.

In Fall of last year, Eric Newton of the Knight Foundation followed up the Open Letter that he and other important funders of journalism schools wrote to the nation’s j-schools with a seething article that “Journalism Education Isn’t Changing Fast Enough.

“It appears that educators have listened to the debate about the need to change, at least enough to acknowledge the importance of new skills,” wrote Howard Finberg, co-author of the report and director of business development at The Poynter Institute, on his blog. “But the question remains: What are professionals hearing about the importance of new skills and how they fit within organizations as they make the transition to digital?”

Interestingly enough, I am writing my capstone project on this very topic and have interviewed several professionals inside news organizations.  I will make my paper available soon enough.  But in answer to Mr. Finberg’s question, everyone professional I spoke with is well aware of the importance of digital media tools, but they still prioritize writing, ethics, copyright law and basic journalistic tenets like checking sources as paramount.  Many have seen first hand from recent graduates a sloppiness in using sources and pictures from the Internet without verification or permission.  They don’t want to see so much emphasis be put on digital practice that journalistic theory suffers.

Click here to see the entire Poynter study.



A Romper Room Social Media Policy

d74adfbe8b063bf788730f6a23756eefOn the children’s TV show Romper Room, they talked about “Do Bees and Don’t Bees” and you never wanted to be a Don’t Bee.  Below is a Universal Social Media policy I put together for a graduate class at Quinnipiac University that is based on the Romper Room philosophy.                                                                                               

1. Be Honest

Always tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  If you don’t know something, say you don’t know, but you’ll find out.  If you make a mistake, admit it.  If you give an opinion, make certain that you state that you are speaking for yourself.

2. Be Polite

The Golden Rule should always be your guide, treat others as you would want them to treat you.  Common courtesies are important, sat please and thank you.  When clients or customers give us their opinion, even when it is negative, they are giving us the gift of research.  Be appreciative.

3. Be Transparent

Always give your name, title and the name of the company, if you are representing the company on an official manner.  Never post anonymously, use and alias or pretend to be someone else.

4. Be Ethical and Legal

Always follow this Social Media policy, the guidelines and comment policies of our website, social media and/or blogs sites you use or visit.  Never upload any material that you do not own.  Be aware of copyright laws. It should go without saying that you don’t engage in illegal activity online.

5. Be Responsive

Social Media offers a wonderful opportunity for us to connect with our customers. We all need to respond to customer questions, complaints, comments and compliments.  And we need to respond quickly.  If you don’t know the answer, or it’s not your department, alert the appropriate person.  Search twitter and blogs for our company and its products.  If we are mentioned, respond and alert your manager.  Sometimes a simple “thank you” is all that is all that is needed.

6. Be Appropriate

Obscenity, profanity and pornography is strictly forbidden in the workplace or when representing this company.  It may result in dismissal.  Inappropriate sexual, racially insensitive and/or threatening comments may also result in dismissal.  Humor is wonderful, but avoid off color jokes or sarcasm.  When talking about the competition,

7. Be Yourself

Stick area of expertise; write about what you know.  If you publish on a website now affiliated with the company, please use a disclaimer like this: “The positing on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent my employers positions, strategies or opinions.”  Remember that when you respond to our customers and clients, you are having a conversation.  Don’t use business jargon or be too formal.  You work here because we like you and trust you, be yourself and communicate like yourself.

8. Don’t Be a Tattletale

Just like a family has secrets, we have secrets that we don’t wish to share with our competition.  Never reveal the company’s classified or confidential information.  Off-limit topics include litigation, non-published financials or unreleased product information.  If you have any questions about a topic, ask a manager before publishing.

9. Don’t Be a Gossip

Don’t talk about the workplace or other employees on social media.  They can represent themselves just fine without your help.  If you have a problem with a co-worker, a manger or the company, please tell HR or your manager, but do not publish it.  Negative comments about the company or its employees can result in disciplinary action, including dismissal.

10. Don’t Be Creepy

You know the guy.  Don’t be that guy.

It’s not Digital, Online or MultiMedia; It’s Just Journalism.

Screenshot 2014-03-09 13.28.08“Digital Journalism”, “MultiMedia Journalism” and “Online Journalism” are some of the new qualifiers that attempt to define the profession in the changing world of media.  All of the qualifiers are outdated.  Even the term “New Media” is passe.   How long does it take for “New Media” to become just Media?  The time has come.

Same with journalism.  Is there really a print of broadcast journalist out there who isn’t now required to attempt to present their stories in a multi-media format, even if that is just to also present them in an online of digital form?

It seems the qualifying words have less to do with defining journalism, but separating the requirements in a desperate attempt to hold on to the past.  Even as newspapers die and television ratings crumble to next to nothing, journalists hold on to the words newspaper, television and magazine, like the Japanese soldiers hiding in caves still fighting WWII years after it was over (even they had to finally surrender to reality).   There is a resistance, even a refusal, to accept that all journalists are “Digital, Online, MultiMedia Journalists”, or in a word, “Journalists.”

Internet requirements have always been a nuisance, extra work, for broadcast and print journalists.  Even the term “blog” was understood to be something less than a “column” or a “report.”  Not anymore.  Even a “tweet” can have more power and a wider audience than a traditional written or broadcast “report.”

University Journalism Departments are also having a difficult time dealing with the convergence.  Some of the most prestigious Journalism Schools in the country have been resistant and slow to changing their curriculum.  Several Universities offer separate tracks for print, broadcast and multi-media.  But with convergence, shouldn’t a print reporter know how to shoot and edit?  Shouldn’t a broadcast reporter know AP style for his or her blog writing?  Shouldn’t a multi-media journalist about both print and TV?  All of those questions also converge into one – shouldn’t there be just one journalism class that teaches all skills?

I understand that there is some hypocrisy here, as this blog uses the now redundant title “Digital Journalists.”  I will have to come up with a clever way to change that.  At least I understand I have to change.  Some don’t.


Great Resource for Online Journalism

Screenshot 2014-03-09 11.29.24I found a great blog by Mindy McAdams, a journalism professor at The University of Florida, call Teaching Online Journalism.

I am working on a Capstone paper on changing curriculum to meet the changing landscape of journalism.  Here is a sampling of the courses Professor McAdams has taught in the last couple of years:

Screenshot 2014-03-09 11.17.58

She is clearly an educator who gets the tools a journalist needs to succeed in convergence.

AND McAdams has the syllabuses of each of those classes online.  What a wonderful resource.

She also puts up links every Sunday to the weeks must reads for online journalists, which is getting to be a redundant term.

Internet TV was the big loser on Oscar night


Another example that the Internet is not yet ready to swallow up traditional television.

Originally posted on Quartz:

One of the biggest nights in American television was essentially unwatchable online, as technical problems marred various live streams of the Oscars and highlighted the huge gap between internet TV’s promise and its glitchy reality.

People in the United States reported widespread issues loading ABC’s live stream of the 86th Academy Awards on the network’s website and mobile apps. Complaints abounded on Twitter. Those who were able to access the feed said it frequently cut in and out, buffered, or lost audio.

Canadian broadcaster CTV’s live stream suffered similar problems, for the second year in a row.

ABC had already restricted online access

View original 236 more words

Interview with Brian Howard

Brian Howard is the News Editor for Philadelphia Magazine’s web site,  This is the first in a series of interviews for my capstone project to complete my graduate work at Quinnipiac University.

Where are the Citizen Journalists?

can-stock-photo_csp11800501Citizen journalism is booming around the globe more from necessity than a longing personal desire.  In countries where the media is state-run, non-existent or incompetent, citizens have risen up with blogs, cameras and courage to fill the void.  Most of the powerful images see by the world from the uprising of the Green Movement in Iran were from citizen journalists.  The Arab spring was stoked and then covered by citizen journalists working in a symbiotic relationship with professional journalists who were late to the party.  China is a hotbed of Citizen Journalists who are exposing government corruption and extravagance almost on a weekly basis.  And in Africa, especially in Zimbabwe and the sub-Saharan region, the rise of technology and mobile devices has given rise to a torrent of citizen journalists who are finally giving a voice to victims of violence, the poor and the oppressed.

Why aren’t we seeing the same boom in Citizen Journalism in America?

There have been bright flare-ups of Citizen incited by the passion of outrage.  Citizen bloggers from both the far right and far left of the political spectrum have had profound effects on the last three Presidential elections, to the point where wooing these bloggers has become part of the campaign strategy of the two parties.  Occupy Wall Street arose from the work of Citizen Journalists like Tim Poole and the Citizen Journals on Facebook.  Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was forced to resign in December of 2002 after progressive blogs, and not as much the main stream media, kept up pressure over a racist remark he made.  Conservative blogs forced the resignation of Dan Rather when they discredited a 60 Minutes report on the National Guard service of President George W. Bush.  There have been several examples of employees and concerned Mom’s taking to YouTube to expose companies from Lockheed Martin to McDonald’s.

But the drive to report on a daily basis is not as strong in this country as it is around the world.  I think there are some compelling reasons for that.  First, the situation in this country is not desperate enough.  Although we complain about the economy and our government, compared to the rest of the world, our government and economy are both strong.  Crime is down and we certainly don’t see the violence that is tearing apart Syria and killing thousands in Central Africa.   Reporters can cover life and death stories in this country without fearing for their lives.  In many countries, the stories would not be told without citizen journalists.

Second, even though unemployment is high in this country relative to our past; it is not high relative to the rest of the world.  Most simply do not have the time to delve into citizen journalism, except for those who happen to be at the right place at the wrong time.  In these days when everyone has a smart phone, pictures and eyewitness accounts of tragedies most often come first from social media.

There is also an omnipresent free media in this country that crowds out all attempts to break into the arena.  Even though polls show American are skeptical of the main stream media, the polls seem to belie an underlying trust that there is adequate and competent news coverage; that there is not a void that needs to be filled.  It also could be that the large and traditional news sites simply do not give credit to citizen journalists.  In two of the examples cited here, the Networks were late to the coverage of Trent Lott and Rathergate, but gave little or no credit to the blogs that uncovered the story.

Citizen journalism dominates in other parts of the world because citizens are face with no alternative.  The same passion that arises with outrage and atrocities in this country is constantly present in places like Syria, South Korea, Egypt and Central Africa.  In other words, we all have the ability to be citizen journalists and may be called into action at any moment.  It is the ability, not the consistency, that is important.



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