Posted on October 26, 2007
5 things to tell the students
How much time did you spend online yesterday and today? (Pause.) Compare that with how much time you spent reading a newspaper or a magazine.
Last night I spoke to about 40 journalism students at a meeting of the student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. My mission: To alert them to the role of online in their future career. (Your answer to the two questions might differ from theirs, but it was obvious from their facial expressions that the question makes sense to them.)
Why would you think you will have a career writing — only writing — for a newspaper, when you know what the habits of your peers are?
I’m not saying you won’t work for a newspaper, but the current students are telling us that they hear this at the campus journalism job fairs: What are your online skills? What is your URL? Where are your links?
The magazine people are in the same boat — the students just don’t realize it yet!
So here’s what I told them:
- You don’t have to be a programmer. But you need to have more than one skill. Another way to say that is, You need to have more than only print skills.
- If you have not taken any online skills courses at all, and spring is your final semester, and the intro online course conflicts with one of your required courses that you waited until now to take — sign up for the online course, and delay your graduation. Do you want to graduate? Or do you want a job?
- You can go home tonight and learn to make a Web page. For heaven’s sake, there are only 10 tags to learn. Learn HTML and CSS here. Free.
- You should not even be thinking about Flash if you never made a Soundslides. Download Soundslides here. Free demo version. See what kind of story you can tell.
- Every journalist can learn to gather and edit audio for online. Start here. You probably already have a digital recorder. Buy an external microphone. Download Audacity. Get busy.
This collection of tools, tutorials and tips will also come in handy: Journalists’ Toolkit.
Look at great online journalism work — here and here. Look often. Recognize the growing importance of video (like this one) in the newspaper newsrooms. Do you know how to shoot video? Do you know how to edit video? Realize that one person does NOT need to possess EVERY skill — look at the credits (top right) on this package from the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post.
Update (11:25 p.m.): See what a bunch of newspaper editors say about journalism jobs and what new hires need to know.