Archive for July, 2011

The July column by South Carolina journalism instructor Doug Fisher, “It’s not rocket science, but …,” echoes thoughts I have had recently. The essential gist of the column is that for most of his life, basic journalism didn’t change all that much, and it really was pretty basic:

“But after helping to write a second edition of a convergence journalism textbook, I’m not so sure anymore. Less than five years since the first edition, the changes continue to be swift and amazing.

“The first edition tried to help journalists get over the reluctance, almost fear, some had of dealing with the changes roiling the business. We talked a lot about how to repurpose content, handle quick audio and still photos with digital recorders and cameras, and blog.

“Now, blogging is so 2007. In most newsrooms, it’s routine for many beat reporters. The journalist without a digital camera and recorder, even if both are just part of a smartphone, is becoming as rare as the snail darter.

“In the second edition, we’ve added dozens of pages on social media and journalism, business models, interactivity and other emerging topics, and we probably could have written more.”

My own thoughts along this line were spurred by the time I have spent the past month or so helping fill a gap in the editing schedule at the News & Messenger in Northern Virginia. Discussion of the website and Facebook, for instance, is routine and takes place throughout the day. But I know that’s not the case in every newsroom, and there is uneven progress — for example, some print newsrooms have instilled video as part of the normal routine, while others struggle just to remember to get raw video from things such as accidents or fires. Still, it’s a long way from the day 15 years ago when I felt the need to circulate a memo to my own reporting staff in Winston-Salem explaining why getting news first on the Web (which in the newsroom could be viewed from just four PCs set in common areas) was a good thing.

RELATED: Somehow I missed the declaration of Social Media Day, but I love this L.A. Times piece in which journalists say how social media has changed their jobs. From NFL columnist Sam Farmer: “It has made press boxes much quieter because everyone saves their best wisecracks for Twitter.”

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In a fairly egregious error, a North Carolina newspaper identified a vine that some say has grown up a pole into the form of Jesus on the cross as kudzu. I can tell just looking at the thumbnail image that it isn’t kudzu (the paper later corrected itself and identified it as trumpet vine), but come on. No one could tell before publication? Not the reporter? The photographer? The editor or page designer? You might not know what it is, but if you drive down rural Southern highways you ought to know what it isn’t. North Carolina ought to deport those involved northward.

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