Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Crossover Talent: As the Industry Adapts to Change, So Do the Skills of Journalists

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Crossover Talent: As the Industry Adapts to Change, So Do the Skills of Journalists

Article excerpt

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As recently as 150 years ago, the most important quality for someone who wanted to work in the water industry was a strong hack and sturdy legs. Physical strength mattered more than anything when you delivered water from wells in buckets. Technology took over. And soon the requirements for the water industry included advanced knowledge of math, geology and physics. The owners of water delivery systems started looking for workers in schools of mechanical engineering and sciences.

You can draw a parallel to American newsrooms. Technology has changed the way we gather and distribute news forever. And although there are fewer newsroom jobs than there were a decade ago, should we still be filling jobs by scouring smaller newspapers and journalism schools?

The answer--as it is with many questions--is "Yes and No."

To begin with, the job of a journalist still is deep in the best traditions of the business--clear writing and photography, relentless reporting, and persistent questioning. But some things have changed. Our audiences--with greater access to information--are more informed. They often have more expertise than we do and if they don't have it, such information is easy enough to gather. So finding journalists who are more narrowly niched and deeper in their knowledge might be the most important quality if we want to keep our smarter-than-ever audience. Additionally, today's journalists need to be skilled in both words and images. The audience expects a story in prose and in appearance. They want to read it and see it.

The best journalism schools understand this and are producing talented researchers and storytellers who are comfortable in video and in verbs. They are proficient on any delivery platform. They can take apart a database. Many can write code for mobile apps.

But it might also be smart to go deeper on campus.

My longtime friend and superb editor, John Temple, said, "I've been working in New York quite a bit and I find the candidates from the ITP program at NYU intriguing. The program describes itself this way: 'ITP is a two-year graduate program located in the Tisch School of the Arts whose mission is to explore the imaginative use of communications technologies--how they might augment, improve, and bring delight and art into people's lives. Perhaps the best way to describe us is as a Center for the Recently Possible. …

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