Wired Journalists in 2008: Were you in it to win?

Howard “yes, he’s my boss” Owens follows up on the December 2007 post that spawned Wired Journalists with an update as the year grinds to a burly, overwhelming close. (Well, it’s been that way the last couple weeks for me, at least.)

Howard asks how wired you’ve become in 2008:

The post stirred a lot of conversation, but I only heard from a couple of reporters who were taking on the MBO program.  I’ve not heard back on progress from any of them in months.

Editors John Robinson in Greensboro and Linda Grist Cunningham in Rockford set up similar programs for their newsrooms.  Robinson, I know, rewarded at least two staff members for completing his list of “get wired” goals.

Of course, Howard framed this as an “MBO program” and to me, it’s always going to be more organic and harder to track than any checklist with accountability, so here’s my completely anecdotal analysis:

  • More journalists are using Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking and reporting tools to connect with their peers, sources, and readers.
  • More journalists are learning multimedia skills, whether it’s as simple as point-and-shoot video or as complicated as XML-to-Flash.
  • More journalists are getting curious about what all this new media talk is all about, even if that just means they’re curious enough to sign up for Wired Journalists (where there are now more than 3,000 members) and lurk.
  • All of this is good.

What about you?  How do you think journalists, in general, are doing at adopting (and adapting to) new technology? 

If Howard were to re-write his post for next year, what should the objectives for a wired journalist be in 2009?

1 thought on “Wired Journalists in 2008: Were you in it to win?”

  1. Ryan, I know a lot of reporters working on the program who didn’t directly contact Howard about the MBO, but I’ve seen a dramatic shift in many newsrooms.

    Not with everyone, of course, as some that say they’re wired are really just posturing (or worse, don’t get it at all). And many have only barely stumbled their way into the new frontier, finally coming to realize that a blog is just their column without deadlines.

    That said, the overall shift has definitely moved towards the Web, which is good. There will always be the ten-percenters that don’t budge an inch. This year, though, I watched many, many reporters fully immerse themselves in technology.

    With the writing so clearly on the wall the last half of the year, many of the complaints and arguments I’ve heard over and over have gone out the window. Which is good.

    As for an MBO program for 2009? I’d advance it by stretching the boundaries.

    – Buy your own domain and hosting plan. Set up a blog.
    – Build a Web page using only HTML and CSS.
    – Learn lighting techniques for video*
    – Photoshop a graphic**
    – Ask for databases and spreadsheets while you’re reporting…and do more with them on the Web.
    – Crowdsource a document
    – Communicate with your editor through IM, from your phone, while you’re in the field.

    *Tip: There’s an old, cheap documentary trick for producing dramatic lighting during interviews. Shut off all the lights in a room and light your subject’s face with a studio light. Turn on a single incandescent lamp in the background. (You’ll see it in nearly every documentary you watch now that I’ve pointed it out).

    **Or use free software like GIMP.


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