Media Must Learn to Think Beyond the Medium

Newspaper reporter – those two words, inexorably linked in
my consciousness, once formed the basis for my identity.

TV reporters stared into cameras, radio reporters spoke into microphones. I communicated with a keyboard, producing stories that lived in words and
only in words. Nothing more was expected of me. Nothing more was possible.

That’s all changed. There are no more newspaper
reporters, TV reporters or radio reporters. There are just reporters, period.
Journalism has become medium agnostic and story centric. This is good for us,
the public, but not so good for some journalists who now must carry a camera as well as a pen.

Journalism today is layered, not linear. This requires a new
kind of storytelling, one that presents information in multiple angles and
formats.

Free from the constraints of edges and airtime, stories now have endless sidebars. Our news is in three dimensions – a 360-degree narrative that is sometimes shared and altered by people who never went
to journalism school or had a byline. And yet that new, altered version of the
story exists forever online as news.

News is smaller and moves faster. Journalists don’t tell
stories as much as give them life, leaving the telling for others. This is
a much different kind of identity, a shift from the medium that you work in to the
stories that you work on.

And here lies the challenge for today’s reporter: Forget the
infrastructure and focus on the news
.

You don’t work for a newspaper; you work in the news
business, using any tools at your disposal necessary to do your job. A print
reporter may shoot video if that helps tell the story. A TV journalist can
write a blog or a radio journalist can post photos to illustrate a story on his
podcast.

I witnessed this struggle first hand during a recent “new
media” workshop for travel writers. These were print people worried about what
cameras to buy, how long a podcast should be and whether they could manage this
new approach to storytelling. All they knew for sure was there was no choice
but to learn and evolve.

This is not threatening but rather freeing – without
conventional constraints, reporters can be more engaging and thorough. It also
secures a place for print as a needed piece of the multimedia pie, instead of
becoming a faded, stubborn relic screaming for dominance in a media world gone
forever flat.

 

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3 Responses to Media Must Learn to Think Beyond the Medium

  1. I’m all for the idea that the story is more important than what medium is chosen to tell it. What bothers me is the idea that worrying about how to get a good photo will take away from a journalist’s research, fact checking or other duties.
    There are times when a journalist can play multiple roles and do them well. But I’m not convinced they should be expected to do that routinely, with every assignment.

  2. I agree, Eric — the tool should fite the task, and sometimes that means erring on the side of simplicity and common sense. As I wrote a while back, “Technology can’t help you if you don’t have anything to say.” Thanks for the comment, Eric, good to hear from you!

  3. Another step toward an online newsroom

    We have always operated under the idea that the best way to build content online is to integrate it into the work of what was formerly known as our newspaper newsroom. A room full of journalists, originally hired to create…

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