Tuesday, December 05, 2006

You say you want a revolution...

Andrew Venegas posted a Student Manifesto on his blog yesterday. I absolutely agree with his thoughts on the future of journalism at San Jose State University. As he says, JMC 163 has been a huge success in its inaugural semester as a class on new media. If we as journalism students want to survive as journalists in the future, we need to learn these skills. SJSU needs to save the class and expand its curriculum to include more on new media. His proposed solution is a great idea:

I propose a complete overhaul of the journalism curriculum at SJSU, starting with the development of New Media as a concentration. Print and Broadcast are fast becoming niche markets as consumers more often than not are reading hard print and watching the TV AFTER already seeing or reading it online. The Long Tail is gaining a larger viewer and readership than traditional media.

It is true that we need specific tools, but we also need theory and core journalistic values. A core GE specifically for journalists must be established, which should include an introduction to Dreamweaver, InDesign, and Photoshop, as well as stressing objectivity, fairness and truth-seeking.

After completion of this GE, journalism students should be able to concentrate in Print, Broadcast, or New Media.

In this new concentration, students could then delve into the concepts and software that make Web 2.0 technologies, podcasting, and vodcasting work.
The only thing I am not sure about is using the labels of print, broadcast and new media at all. I think that any journalism degree needs to include aspects of all three. I want to learn the basics of writing for broadcast, for example. But I am a print major so that is not offered in any of my classes and I do not want to go back and take classes over again (but in a different focus) just to learn these things. A good new media journalist will need to know how to write, design, edit, take photos and broadcast, just as a print journalist needs to know how to write, edit and some basic design. That does not mean that we need to know everything, but we need to go over the fundamentals.

Those who are going to survive the difficult transition our industry is going through are those that can produce quality content in any medium, or even better, in every medium. We are seeing more and more integration and cooperation of text, graphics, photos, video and the like. A good news report now is not just a written summary; it is good text, with good photos, video and audio. The media need to complement each other and work together. We need to learn how to use all of them and how to integrate them all into our work.

Steve Sloan says that we are going through a revolution.
I do not see blood on the streets, what kind of revolution is this? It is a revolution about conversation. It is about the power of ordinary citizens as well as new media journalists to be able to go to their virtual windows to the world and (using their blogs, podcasts, video blogs and other forms of new media) to be able to shout out, "I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore!" In the fictional 1976 movie Network, Howard Beale from his TV pulpit was able to inspire folks to go to their windows and yell that out. Each individual's voice carried maybe a few houses. It was only Beale's voice that was able to reach across the nation, only Beale had the network. Now we all have a network, it is called the Internet. That is the revolution.
He is right. The world is changing, and we are in a unique position to make our thoughts heard. What we say makes a difference. As we call on the University to update its program and rethink new media in journalism, we enable future generations to be better prepared to produce quality content and survive in a changing industry. Good journalists are a powerful force in the world. Let's make sure that SJSU continues to produce only the very best.

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