Newspapers, Journalism Schools Struggle Toward Digital

| 3/13/2009 9:23:21 AM

Journalism School Struggling to Stay RelevantWith the media in freefall, newspapers are fighting to survive and journalism schools are struggling to stay relevant. The Anniston Star newspaper and the University of Alabama have found a partnership that could help both. Using a grant from the Knight Foundation, the Anniston Star has started accepting master’s students for a community journalism program to pitch and report stories and supplement the newspaper’s editorial coverage.

The move was met with some resistance from the paper’s editorial staff. Troy Turner, who was the executive editor of the Star before the program began, told the American Journalism Review, “They wanted a training model like a Navy hospital ship. But we worked like a battleship, with all guns blazing. We wanted to continue doing the solid journalism that the Anniston Star had long been known for doing.” Now that the program has started, however, Turner admits that the it’s having some success.

Other journalism schools haven’t had as easy of a time adjusting. When the New York Times partnered with the City University of New York for their own community journalism project, “The Local,” New York Magazine reports that the move was seen as a slight to the University of Columbia venerable journalism school.

Since then Columbia has increased its efforts to stay current. According to New York Magazine, the school will soon offer “a revamped, digitally focused curriculum designed to make all students as capable of creating an interactive graphic as they are of pounding out 600 words on a community-board meeting.” But just as many old-school journalists don’t want to dive into blogging, professors at Columbia are less than enthusiastic about going digital. Ari Goldman, a 16-year professor of Columbia’s Reporting and Writing 1 (RW1) class, is quoted as saying “fuck new media,” describing the move to digital as “an experimentation in gadgetry.”

Image by Bluemarine, licensed under Creative Commons. 

SourceAmerican Journalism ReviewNew York Magazine 

Marcia Ming
8/21/2009 8:51:21 PM

While covering businesses in the 1980's,I interviewed a number of chief executives whose companies were being affected by the advent of computers. Some of the executives were visionaries and saw opportunity in the changes. These executives adopted forward thinking strategies that made their companies even more successful. Other executives were clueless. Instead of adapting to the changing environment, they balked. The result was that I later wrote stories about their companies as their assets sold for pennies on the dollar in bankruptcy court. It is vitally important for journalists to adapt to the new media. It is even more critical to find ways to preserve some of the integrity journalists have long held, although it may seem impossible at this moment. Without journalists, who will hold politicians and unscrupulous business leaders accountable? Avoiding the new media is not the answer. The Internet is evolving at a rapid pace. Instead of shunning the changes, why not look ahead to figure out the next evolution. I read somewhere recently that newspapers should have invented Google, or search. Had they done so, we might not be facing the demise of media as we know it. So I challenge journalism schools to envision and create the news media of the future. I earned an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Michigan in 1976. When I started my career, we wrote our stories on IBM Selectrics. If I can build websites, create blogs and learn to tweet, journalism schools should be willing to take on the challenge of keeping the news media alive.

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