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Backpack Journalism Rules

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Title: Backpack Journalism Rules


1
Backpack Journalism Rules
Edgar Huang Indiana University-Purdue University
Indianapolis
2
Historical attitude toward BJ
  • In a 2002 article (http//www.ojr.org/ojr/workplac
    e/1017771634.php) in Online Journalism Review,
    Matha Stone called backpack journalists a mush
    of mediocrity.
  • She wrote However, the do-it-all journalists
    should be the exception, not the rule.

3
BRIDGING
and
Classrooms
Newsrooms
Preparing the Next Generation of Journalists for
Converged Media
Huang, E., Davison, K., Davis, T., Bettendorf,
E., Shreve, S. and Nair, A. (2006, Autumn).
Journalism and Communication Monographs. Vol. 8,
No. 3, pp. 221-262.
4
Bridging Newsrooms and Classrooms
What is media convergence?
  • In this 2003 study, Huang et al identified four
    levels of media convergence
  • Corporate merger or alliance
  • Form/technological convergence
  • Content convergence
  • Role convergence

5
Bridging Newsrooms and Classrooms
Convergence calls for role change
  • A new breed of journalists converged
    journalists is expected.
  • Teaming is good, but converged journalists will
    be in an advantageous position.
  • For the news company, they are efficient and
    effective employees.
  • For journalists themselves, they are more
    marketable and gain more sense of achievement.

6
Bridging Newsrooms and Classrooms
Two questions in the nutshell
  • Should J-schools train specialists or fit-for-all
    generalists?
  • How should college journalism education balance
    the teaching of critical thinking and the
    teaching of technical skills?

7
Bridging Newsrooms and Classrooms
  1. Should J-schools train specialists or generalists?
  • The majority of the respondents (84) agreed or
    strongly agreed that journalism students should
    learn how to write for multiple media platforms.
  • The majority of the respondents (85) agreed that
    journalism students with a visual emphasis should
    learn how to produce and edit photos, videos and
    online interactive images.
  • Most respondents (78) agreed or strongly agreed
    that all journalism majors should learn multiple
    sets of skills, such as writing, editing, TV
    production, digital photography and Web design.

8
Bridging Newsrooms and Classrooms
  1. Should J-schools train specialists or
    generalists? (cont.)
  • When asked whether journalism students should
    still have a specialization, such as writing,
    photojournalism, broadcasting and new media, over
    half (63) of the respondents agreed or strongly
    agreed. Over a quarter of the respondents (28)
    were negative and 9 were not sure.

9
Bridging Newsrooms and Classrooms
  1. Should J-schools train specialists or
    generalists? (cont.)
  • When asked whether journalism sequences should be
    reorganized considering the trend of
    media-platforms merging in the industry,
  • 56 of the professors agreed or strongly agreed,
  • 22 were not sure,
  • 22 disagreed or strongly disagreed.

10
Bridging Newsrooms and Classrooms
  1. Should J-schools train specialists or
    generalists? (cont.)
  • Flexible is a key term repeatedly seen in the
    respondents textual answers as a suggestion for
    training future journalists. A professor wrote
  • We cant teach for the now. We have to
    prepare students for when they graduate which
    in most instances is now five years out. And, we
    feel a commitment to expose them to all types of
    writing in all platforms so they can be flexible
    about their career choice at the front end of
    their academics. Then, they can apply the skills
    to a specialty area where they are totally
    proficient.

11
Bridging Newsrooms and Classrooms
  1. What skills do news professionals need to learn
    most at their current positions?

Editors list News professionals list
1 Good writing Good writing
2 Multimedia production Multimedia production
3 Critical thinking New technology Computer-assisted reporting Visual production
4 New technology New technology Computer-assisted reporting Visual production
5 Computer-assisted reporting New technology Computer-assisted reporting Visual production
6 Visual production Critical thinking
7 Time management Time management
8 Second language Second language
9 On-camera exposure On-camera exposure
12
Bridging Newsrooms and Classrooms
Conclusions (continued)
  • Respondents with different academic and
    professional backgrounds share the same
    conviction. That is, reporting news in multiple
    media platforms will be tomorrows way news is
    presented dealing with media convergence in
    college journalism education is an urgent
    necessity. The wait-and-see strategy will place a
    J-school in a disadvantaged position over the
    long run.

13
Bridging Newsrooms and Classrooms
Conclusions (continued)
  • Generalists are needed in the industry though
    such needs may not be necessarily converted into
    requirements in job ads for a while.
  • The needs for superhack masters of multimedia
    are out there, but whether the training of such
    superhack masters will become a norm largely
    depends on whether J-schools are willing to and
    able to develop those avant-garde courses.
  • Students also need to learn to cooperate and
    collaborate across newsrooms.

14
Bridging Newsrooms and Classrooms
Conclusions (continued)
  • Attitude and aptitude, together with time
    management ability, will be the key to producing
    quality work in newsrooms.
  • The concerns that students being trained in
    multiple media platforms will be jacks of trades
    but masters of none are not grounded.

15
Backpackers Rule
  • In 2005, Mark Hamilton, a former journalist and a
    then journalism instructor in Vancouver, BC,
    highly praised backpackers. He was so excited
    about the BJ idea that he wrote In fact, if I
    were 19 again and starting out as a journalist,
    Id do whatever it took to be a backpack
    journalist.

16
BJ Has Became Mainstream
  • In 2006, the Institute for Interactive Journalism
    began to award BJ.

17
BJ Has Became Mainstream
  • Gannett Broadcasting ran a backpack journalism
    program in early 2007.

18
BJ Has Became Mainstream
19
BJ Has Became Mainstream
  • At the Journal News in White Plains, New York
    Deputy Managing Editor for Presentation Larry
    Nylund, says, The list of qualifications we look
    for in a photojournalism applicant just got a lot
    longer. Why? The photo department in now known
    as the multimedia department, Nylund says. We
    are looking for talented people who can step in
    with the skills needed to tell visual stories in
    many different ways. The photographers in
    Nylunds department contribute to the newspaper,
    magazines, weekly tabloids, a television station
    and a Website. Photographers carry still and
    video cameras, laptops, cell phones. The company
    now has video and audio studios.

20
My New Study
  • This year, I completed a study Media convergence
    and young audience Finding a converging point,
    in which I concluded, True convergence, based on
    the findings from this study, however, needs to
    be realized on the Internet. As the current
    generations of people in the ages of 40 and
    above, it is very likely that the paper part of
    newspaper will gradually become a nostalgic
    concept, and TV and radio will be assimilated
    into online news presentations.

21
My New Study
  • In the years to come, a true convergence will
    mean that the news industry provides the younger
    generation an experience of consuming multimedia
    news that is customizable and relevant to them
    all online through computers or other more
    convenient and less expensive hand-held devices
    with an opportunity for audience to be easily
    engaged in participatory journalism.

22
The Point Is
  • Backpack journalism education should become the
    standard for future journalists.
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