The Future of Journalism Workshop

“The Future of Journalism” session helped illustrate a point of view about the importance of knowing about technology as well as the dangers of using this median. One of the major themes that I heard reiterated over and over again was to take chances. Jim Brady repeatedly said that online journalism is a risk, but the very successful companies are all taking risks. A significant amount of trepidation comes from current controllers of journalism and even academic instructors being unfamiliar with new technology, according to Brady. The point has been made on many occasions that some forms of citizen journalism is not a respectable form of journalism. For example the point has been made that “bloggers are not journalists,” Brady’s response was that the statement was true but many journalists are bloggers so it was important to understand the difference between the two crafts.
Brady also made an important point about the use of technology, he said that it is not necessarily important to understand exactly how to do everything using new technology but it is important to know how these forms of technology work and how they may impact the future. One important point Brady made was concerning the dearth between online advertising in comparison to print. When analyzing this issue it is important to recognize that online advertising is growing, however it still does not compare to the revenue brought in by print advertising. Brady made the comparison of online journalism to the concept of the“ Field of Dreams” saying that unlike this notion if you build I they do not just come.
Online journalism as a new and evolving media is a risk however while it has not taken over newsrooms and newspaper offices it is involved in almost every legitimate/ competitive news outlet today.

My only personal concern with online journalism is the expectation of computer access. And while yes, 2007 is absolutely in the middle of an extremely technological age, there is a population of people in this country – namely the economic underclass and senior citizens – who do not generally use or have access to the internet. I believe the evolution of this online age further causes social stratification between the privileged and deprived.


Jim Brady workshop

Yes, print publications are dying. And yes, the concept of journalism is changing at a rapid pace. But despite the above, for once during my time in the journalism school, I was told that I had a chance of finding a job in the journalism field.

During the workshop, Jim Brady emphasized the need for journalists, not writers. The difference? A writer can only put words on a paper, and a journalist can put together a newspaper.

Brady advised the audience to step outside of the traditional cookie-cutter type "journalist" from before the Internet era. Before the Internet became integrated into daily life, journalists focused on writing. Now, editors are looking for journalists who not only know how to write, but also know how to take photos and videos, crop images, write basic HTML, and take any other necessary actions to complete the package.

Eight years ago, I became interested in web design. For the past several years, I became increasingly worried that I was cornering myself into a design career with my previous experience. Yes, web design was an entertaining hobby, but it was also not exactly impressive to newspapers. It was not until recently that my web design experience proved to be more than an after-school activity. Magazines and newspapers (on the verge of a massive technological change) began to contact me, and I was able to use my hobby to catch and keep the attention of editors.

The workshop was interesting and gave me a sense of calm. I now know that while traditional jobs in the journalism field may be disappearing, new positions are forming.

The Internet is creating a new era of journalism, and students need to be prepared for the changes.


MMIAA Workshop with Jim Brady

Ever since I entered the journalism school my freshman year, my professors have been telling me how the journalism world is changing and converging, blurring the lines between reporter responsibilities. The MMIAA’s “Future of Journalism” workshop Sunday not only reiterated this fact, but gave students a valuable opportunity to hear directly from professionals in the field about how their organizations are dealing with these changes.

The most important thing I took away from the workshop was the need for reporters to have multi-platform skills. One of the speakers stressed that if we go into the field with the mindset of only being a newspaper reporter, we would be left behind very quickly. In addition to the staple of writing skills, today’s reporter should be able to shoot basic video and audio and upload it into a Web package. The panelists also talked about the value of blogging, and how a reporter needs to be able to write conversationally for a blog while still maintaining their objectivity.

Hearing from Jim Brady was especially informative, as he discussed some of the behind-the-scenes thinking that goes into maintaining a major news website. Since washingtonpost.com is my primary news Web site, it was interesting to hear about how the editors and reporters use the site to enhance their stories through slide shows, video, reader comments and reporters’ blogs. Increasingly, the washingtonpost.com is looking to include searchable database information on its site. Brady also talked about how data like the number of page views a story gets and the demographics of the readers help the editors tailor the site to the readers in a way that the print paper cannot. However, Brady warned against putting too much emphasis on the numbers, saying that journalistic values always come first.

I asked Brady a question about the Washington Post's foray into radio and how that is representative of journalism's changes. Brady emphasized that while the venture ultimately failed, he has no regrets that the Post attempted it. Despite many media organizations' desire to do the safe thing, Brady said it is important to take risks, for that is the only way media is going to survive this changing time. I believe this was one of the most valuable pieces of advice from the workshop. As budding reporters, we have to be thinking outside the box and not be afraid to follow through on those ideas.

While walking out of the workshop with a free pen and notepad certainly made the event worthwhile, I more importantly walked out with thoughts and advice that will help me make the most of my remaining time at Maryland. I am now thoroughly convinced that the skills I learn in journalism classes such as this online class will do wonders for me when I enter this dynamic wold of journalism in only a few short years.

~Priya Kumar