Journalism students need new heroes; Journalism heroes need new students

This week’s running conversation between Mindy McAdams, Bryan Murley, Howard Owens, and Ron Curley, among many others, boiled over into the U.K. media blogosphere, and I’m finding myself alternately cited, enlightened, and humbled.Let’s start with some enlightenment from a 19-year-old journalism student at the University of Lincoln, UK: Dave Lee.

Lee read Martin Stabe’s follow-up to “The conservatism of journalism students” and put out a call for more heroes in journalism.

I’ll second Bryan’s list as the first part of a response, but the bit in Lee’s post that made me raise my eyebrows and grin was this, about his experience in an online journalism class:

“Knowing HTML in principle is useful – but being taught to use Dreamweaver is an utterly useless skill. We’ll only end up being re-trained in a year or two. Teach us the qualities that make a good online journalist – not how to use a piece of software that will be replaced next year.”

Yes, that. Exactly.

Dave gets it, so well in fact, that after founding a student newspaper at the university, he (and his classmates?) set up a WordPress blog as a companion piece to the print edition.

Yes, that. Exactly.

Somewhere in the middle of all this is Kevin Anderson, Blogs Editor at the Guardian newspaper in the U.K.:

“Whenever I speak to students, instead of saying that they need to learn Flash, or Final Cut or Rails, I say you need to learn reporting, audio-visual storytelling and research.”

That’s essentially the takeaway from all this, as far as I’m concerned: The heroes are out there, in the news business and in the schools, even if we don’t know it yet. They’re starting to read blogs and toy with Soundslides and video and podcasting. And that’s the important step right there, that they’re willing to put their work out a limb and try something other than text to communicate with readers that are increasingly becoming commenters, viewers, and listeners.

So, soon-to-be-journalism-heroes, take your first steps. Start blogging and sharing your work.

We’re waiting for you.

2 Replies to “Journalism students need new heroes; Journalism heroes need new students”

  1. Many thanks for the linkback.

    About the WordPress site for my newspaper. It disheartens me a little bit: the blog has been extremely difficult to set up. Not from a technical point of view (my a-levels sorted that for me), but from an editorial perspective. Over 500 journo students at Lincoln – and a mere handful of people knew what a blog was. Stunning.

    It looks like the website will end up being a place to download the newspaper PDF for the next few weeks. Saddening, but I’d rather do that until I can get a proper online editor to give the site the attention it needs.

    My early thoughts on the site was “build it and they will come” – but this really wasn’t the case.

    On a different note, can I be supremely cheeky and ask where you got the code for your “Tags” zeitgeist type thing in the sidebar there? It’s dead nifty.

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