Journalists’ changing priorities are being taught at RIT

By Hinda Mandell and Andrea Hickerson

Newsrooms and the journalists who work in them have for years been nervously watching as digital, mostly free, sites and services have become the go-to sources of news for many, many consumers.

Image taken from Jim Romenesko’s blog
From Jim Romenesko’s blog

Some have embraced the changes and found ways to use such things as social media to connect with a wider range of sources and listen for a broader perspective on their communities. Some have not.

Recent moves announced at some Gannett newsrooms show that the big companies behind our news sources are finally taking steps to force newsrooms to adapt to the new reality.

As reported on Jim Romenesko’s blog on The Poynter Institute website Gannett plans to introduce what it calls the ‘Newsrooms of the Future’ at several newspapers. As part of that the company telling newsroom employees to reapply for their jobs. Many of those jobs have new titles and include multiple digital and social responsibilities.

What is also being widely commented on is that these new-look newsrooms will feature people who have capabilities across many platforms and are good social media engagers and promoters of their own stories and content.

How does this impact the journalists of the future (i.e. our journalism students at RIT)?

Hinda MandellHinda Mandell: Often times I find students reluctant to promote their own work. This typically comes up in Multiplatform Journalism, where students are required to install Google Analytics on the journalism sites they create.

When students share their Google Analytics numbers in the middle of the term they’re usually fairly low. Maybe they only have five or 15 daily visits to their site. When I ask if they share new posts via Facebook or Twitter I’m often met with blank looks that I interpret as “No.”

By the end of the term it’s common for visits to jump to 150 per day – simply because students began promoting their work via their social media networks.

I totally get the hesitancy to self-promote. But you know what? We need to get over this shyness because here’s an example that when everyone self-promotes, and we don’t, then people – including future employers – assume we’re snoozing at our desks. And why would we cultivate that misperception when the opposite is true?

In this day and age, as the journalistic overhauls its priorities – and a story’s clickability is right up there – we’re only hurting ourselves when we keep our work to ourselves. Get out there and share it.

AndreaHickersonAndrea Hickerson: One of the ways RIT helps prepare journalism majors is by teaching journalism as a collaborative endeavor between people with varied skill sets including computing and business.

The Digital Journalism Incubator class specifically trains students from all majors to work together to pitch a civic problem and then experiment telling the story using different digital tools.  To see what exciting things these students are cooking up, follow it on Twitter  at #RITDJI.

I honestly believe that now is an exciting time to go into journalism.  The skill set for journalists is changing, but the public’s need for information is not.

In fact, with an ever growing menu of digital information available, I believe we need journalists more than ever to sort through the facts and tell stories with the richness and context they deserve. 

Mike Johansson helped compile this post



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