Monday, November 10, 2008

I want to become a journalist? What do I need?

I was reminded today of a phrase I hear time and time again to define how journalism is changing aligned with technology and the web: technological determinism.

This from Wikipeedia below
Technological determinism has been defined as an approach that identifies technology, or technological advances, as the central causal element in processes of social change (Croteau and Hoynes). As a technology is stabilized, its design tends to dictate users' behaviors, consequently diminishing human agency. It ignores the social and cultural circumstances in which the technology was developed. More
At a fairly general level, the dash for all things web 2.0, and the ease at becoming one of the new journalist is creating a different standard.

It's something established traditional journalists are saying and I have been ear-wagged: "I told you so".

In the grand ol' days they might argue, it was about being on the hustings, using your guile to unearth a story and exercising a basic tenant of journalism, prioritising.

I remember joining ITN as a lunch time producer from Channel 4 for a period, and I was lucky to work under one its greats, Phil Moger.

As I recall Phil ladened me with multiple tasks on my first day. Bring in a feed, produce this, take that, get these name checked.

I panicked.

But then someone pulled me aside and told me I needed to prioritise. Do what you need to do at the right time.

Sounds quite anodyne, what does it mean?

I'm writing this at the moment at home, yet it would be ill conceived to have written it at Uni when I had other tasks.

Learning to prioritise is just one of many characteristics, which t-determinism muddies the water.

We're becoming so desk bound, processors of information, passers of facts ,often unattributed sources and gossip, that could we one day lose the art of news gathering for news processing?

In a survey I recently read, and I'll have to look for the link, many news managers spoke about what they required in new journalists and it may seem odd, but being technological savvy was low on their list.

  • Passion
  • High consumer of information
  • Maturity at decision making
  • Ability to work in a team or on your own - but no going rogue
  • An enquiring mind
  • Ability to see all sides
  • Determination to keep learning.

These are qualities that often come parcelled with your candidate wishing to become a journalist.

With passion many things can be accomplished.

And its in the selection process where you're able to filter those with the kwa and those who don't have it.

Because for all that new 21st century journalists will acquire from CSS, Action scripting to data base crunching, to make good on these new skills the recidivist characteristic of journalism is still a prerequisite.

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