The future journalist

Someone else wrote this, but considering its nearness to perfection, I’ll simply share an excerpt as is:

The Future Journalist Is…

We identified specific digitally-oriented skills and traits a future journalist would need. These include being:

  • a multimedia storyteller: using the right digital skills and tools for the right story at the right time.
  • a community builder: facilitating conversation among various audiences, being a community manager.
  • a trusted pointer: finding and sharing great content, within a beat(s) or topic area(s); being trusted by others to filter out the noise.
  • a blogger and curator: has a personal voice, is curator of quality web content and participant in the link economy.
  • able to work collaboratively: knowing how to harness the work of a range of people around him/her — colleagues in the newsroom; experts in the field; trusted citizen journalists; segments of the audience, and more.

How could a person like that not find success, huh? M0re:

[T]he social media scene today is where radio was in 1912, where TV was in 1950, where the web was in 1996. A lot of wonderful opportunities and terrible mistakes lie ahead of us. Predicting the future of journalism at any of those points would have resulted in a lot of wrong predictions back then. While we are sure many of our predictions are going to be wrong in specifics, we have the chutzpah to presume they are right directionally. We welcome your feedback and input.


15 thoughts on “The future journalist

  1. Dennis Lang says:

    I’m thinking of the great practioners of “narrative” (for lack of a better term) journalism. Gay Talese, Susan Orleans, Ron Rosenbaum etc. etc.–and writings that are far more than a summary at the top with the facts and then four hundred words that could just as well be bullet points. Actually the type of in-depth, under-the floor boards, inventive but factual journalism that Bruce Benidt was attempting to instill in his Magazine Writing course. Can this experience survive the information-technology age if our only hope is to read it on a smart phone?

    1. I believe it will survive. A phone serves a purpose of convenience, but that’s no way to read a book, let alone an Economist article or something of that sort.

      The people who read and crave that meaningful, long-form journalism will never die. For the rest, I’d rather have them as informed as their iPhones can get them than, well, than not much at all.

  2. PM says:

    What about the creation of content? What about research? What about analysis?

    Seems to me as if some pretty important things are being left out….

    1. Newt says:

      It’s seldom – no, never – that I agree with PM. But he’s right this time. Where’s the beef? How about some basic level of training or competence in history, economics, the sciences? That’s the problem with today’s journalists.

      1. Dennis Lang says:

        I don’t know Newt, I’m thinking PM may be referring something more abstact than proficiency in these disciplines. An eclectic background helps for sure, but then it’s about curiosities and a mind wide open with the ability to dig out and distill information from disparate sources, to make sense of it and then convey it. I recall David Halberstam responding to an interviewer’s question by saying he entered each new subject without prior knowledge, a clean slate. And each investigation became an act of discovery.

    2. PM says:

      One of the great things about the internet, and aspects of journalism as practised there, is that it goes through and slices and dices so much other stuff, directs us to interesting places, helps us to categorize and aggregate, etc. It helps us to deal with content.

      What I thought was left out was the creation of that content. Too much of what we see on the net is people talking about others peoples content. And more and more people are talking about other people talking about other people talking about….well, nothing at all. Where’s the beef? (Newt–exactly right).

      What is good about journalism is the creation of content, new knowledge, reporters who do research, who create knowledge. What is good about commentators is talking about that Beef, knowledge, content. What scares me about trends in “social media” is that everyone wants to become a commentator and give us their opinion, and who will be left to create the content?

      Sure there needs to be curiosity, and a need to avoid preconceptions, but there is also a need for a basic literacy in the areas that Newt is talking about–economics, history, the sciences. Too often (especially in economics) people write about things that they do not understand.

      [The most common example–most journalists who write about international trade are basically mercantilists–a position that has not been accepted as economically viable since Adam Smith (OK, so most politicians are not any better on this topic, either)]

    3. Speaking of not creating any of one’s own content, perhaps I should have also copied and pasted the paragraph that immediately preceded the list of traits mentioned above:

      The Fundamentals Are Critical

      Despite the importance of technology, it’s the fundamentals of journalism that are still critical. The fundamentals include: great reporting and writing, journalistic ethics, specialization by topic or beat, investigative skills, news judgment. Also invaluable, critical thinking and critical reading — too many journalists don’t pay attention to either. [emphasis mine]

      1. Dennis Lang says:

        Right. Years ago in film school we began with Super 8, then graduated to 16MM. Of course it was imagination, idea, story, and using the tools available to tell it. I suspect these days those critical ingredients are unchanged, but the tools have, and the future film-maker, like the future journalist will have to master them.

      2. PM says:

        That is the one thing that all of the hoopla about the new, never before seen world of social media always seems to forget–new tools rarely change the basics.

        This world is all about connections between individuals. Economics is simply a form of institutionalized exchanges between people (read Marcel Mauss: The Gift), and journalism is nothing more than formalized gossip–storytelling.

  3. Newt says:

    I disagree . We have an abundance of critical thinkers who know nothing of substance. Which yields low-grade information bordering on op-ed drivel.

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      The internet has certainly bombarded us with an excessive abundance of op-ed drivel but its source isn’t the best investigative “critical thinkers” and writers. Maybe we’re talking about two different things.

  4. JS says:

    Technology is always changing and we as journalists have to keep up with it, but we don’t have to lose sight of the basics. Like many of you said we just have to master new forms of technology and use critical thinking. What most journalists may be forgetting is that writing about conveying important news to the community, or your neighbor. Today too many people, not just journalists, get too caught up in their own achievements and forget to do what is right. A journalists job is help others by being a story teller, a narrator of important facts. Today too many people dont’s want put forth efforts to help others unless it helps theirself.
    Writers need to realize that entertainment/celebrity stuff, is not news. People in the community need to hear about what is important to them. Future journalists need to re-learn the basics and keep up with the ever changing technology and be able to combine the two.

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