Spent the last 36 hours in and around Arlington, TX, home of the JerryDome and University of Texas at Arlington, Stiles’ alma mater. We talked about journalism nonstop for hours; I’ve never considered or discussed journalism with that length or breadth since maybe college, and back then I wasn’t in class that often so maybe I’ve topped myself.
Yesterday we spent the afternoon with the staff of UTA’s student paper, The Shorthorn, giving a short talk and then training (Stiles on computer assisted-reporting, me on multimedia/video). This morning we took part in back-to-back panels at a Society of Professional Journalists Career Conference for students and young professionals, where we talked convergence journalism (one of my fave topics, as you know). Apologies to the students who had to see us twice. Goodgod.
The Hu-Stiles traveling roadshow often starts with this piece from CBS’ Jeff Greenfield, which is a great introductory explanation of what convergence is, and what it means. (So much for CBS understanding the sea change though, they still don’t allow their videos to be embedded elsewhere so I had to link you instead of show you the story on this page.)
The bottom line is, distinctions between print reporters, TV reporters, radio reporters and others are quickly melting away. We’re all hybrid, multi-platform journalists now – or should prepare ourselves to be – and students should embrace it or be left behind. “It’s the cost of admission these days,” said our fellow panelist, CBS11 web editor Kent Chapline.
Here’s a sample slide… and the full audio from one of our panels is available thanks to a forward-thinking future journalist named Brooks, who is also a Plano Senior High grad. (Go Wildcats.)
My favorite part of Stiles’ slide is “don’t be evil”. He can better explain it, but this is something we both feel very strongly about as journalists. Being evil, to us, means hoarding information because you can. Not connecting audiences to the best resources because you only want them to be on your website. Not telling certain stories because it’s difficult or not sexy or doesn’t tie to revenue goals. That’s evil. Not allowing your video to be embedded other places is evil. Not linking out to other blogs and helpful sites is evil. Not using open source and free journalism tools like Google Docs and Flickr or Audacity because you only want to use your own stuff is silly, and if it’s keeping good info from viewers and readers, it’s evil. Using social media solely to push your own stuff and not have a conversation is not quite evil, but it’s a poor use of social networks.
We, as journalists, are information sharers. In a time when information is everywhere all the time, we oughta be information finders and sorters and filters – people who help provide greater context, explanation, digging – to help news make better sense to people or help it better connect to their worlds. We can’t do it if we believe other finders and sorters and diggers out there aren’t worthy of linking to or promoting or teaming up with. Don’t be evil.