What’s next for journalism? Check out JournalismNext

Visiting Poynter last week for its seminar “Multimedia Journalism for College Educators” has given me a lot to ponder regarding the challenges of teaching journalism today. What are the applications for using Twitter, Facebook and blogs? In the curriculum as well as for teacher-student communications? It’s an exciting time, but also one of anxiety, for the industry and academia. How to get a handle on the new tech landscape which seems to change daily? (Hello, Google Buzz!) There seem to be a million new ways to communicate, but sadly, a fraction of the (paying) jobs. The teaching challenges are greater than ever. I long for the days when our biggest challenge was figuring out how to squeeze QuarkXpress into our courses.

With all that in mind, it was great to encounter Mark Briggs’ handy new book, JournalismNext, in the library at Poynter. Briggs is an author and entrepreneur who blogs at Journalism 2.0, and previously published “Journalism 2.0: How to survive and thrive.” (You can download that PDF for free, in English, Spanish or Portuguese, here.)

Briggs’ latest book provides great one-stop shopping for anyone – college students, professionals, educators – wanting to take a deep breath and chart a course through the new industry landscape. You all know what’s changing. JOURNALISM: Inverted pyramids? Ha! We now live in the age of crowdsourcing, pro-am reporting, mobile journalism and more. (A detailed section on “news as a conversation” guides readers through the challenges and opportunities of online comments and the like.) TECHNOLOGY: The QWERTY keyboard? Haha! Say hello to HTML, CSS, FTP and SEO. The book offers lessons in how to shoot mug shots and video, how to choose a digital audio recorder, and diving into spreadsheets and databases. I recommend it for anyone with anxiety or hope about moving forward in the digital age.

Best of all, though there’s a lot of tech-speak, the underlying message is all about content, storytelling and service to society. (Yeah! What so many of us went to school for!) Briggs gets off on the right foot by titling his introduction “Journalism is about people, not technology,” where he sets out to make a convincing argument for these optimistic points: 1) Journalism has a bright future; 2) That future is in your hands; and 3) Journalism will be better than it was before.

Returning to St. Pete has given me lots of time to catch up with old pals from my 10 years at the St. Pete Times. Every single journalist – those who remain at the company and yes, a number who have moved on or been let go – has had to learn a number of the skills described meticulously and helpfully in JournalismNext. Many of us are learning these skills by feeling our way through the dark – lots of trial and error and stealing code and what-not. Luckily new resources like this book are making things a bit more clear for us all.

Final thoughts: As I mull over ideas for a return visit next month to Bloomington, for another meeting of our Alumni Advisory Board to Dean Bradley Hamm of the School of Journalism, I wonder about the concept of “journalism” and how it will change over time. Will J-schools move toward being schools of information, dealing with gathering, analysis and presentation of many more kinds of data that don’t fit at all into the labels of news story or press release? (Think Yelp, FourSquare, Twitter and so on.) It also strikes me that our notion of news design, as chronicled on this blog and its mother website since 1997 (yikes, can it be so long?) has now changed to something more like information display. That’s not exactly the right term, and maybe it doesn’t quite matter, but it’s an exciting time to take that deep breath, and contemplate how interactivity and inclusion (of audiences and advertisers) has dramatically changed all that we do.

Want more Briggs and JournalismNext?

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2 Comments

  1. Thomasrandy

     /  February 28, 2010

    This seems like it would be a good basic manual of some of the software and hardware that journalists would require today, but still there needs to be a solid grounding in fundamental values – ethics, news judgment, revenue models for any new business ventures. The days of “if we write it/ they will come” are no more.

  2. 23_Mbugua

     /  February 28, 2010

    curious how frequently such a book will have to change, to keep up with the times. i.e. will the references be outdated in six months, to technical standards and such.

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