Convergence Media

It’s Just News … Channel Be Damned

For too long, perhaps, we’ve thought about news as a channel … not about the actual content. Hence words like newspaper, TV news and radio news. Maybe this is an outgrowth of increasingly mediated information … don’t know, that’s a conversation for another day.

As I said last week at a panel on citizen journalism, a "newspaper" has a key core competency: finding, researching and reporting on issues of import to their audience. Newspapers, I said, need to think beyond the printed product and recognize that creating content, not paper, is what they do.* And do very well, in the main, thank you very much.

Enter the Washington Post, aware of both this core competency and an increasingly multi-media world:

Shortly after Steve Coll became managing editor of the Washington Post
in 1998, he wrote a memo about the coming marriage of print and
Internet journalism. He said that future reporters would be outfitted
with video cameras, which could be attached to their hats, almost like
the little press cards stuck in fedoras back in the old days.

In the newsroom, reporters laughed and called the futuristic reporting device “hatcam.”

No one’s laughing now: The Post is shipping digital video cameras to its bureaus. Post reporters are expected to report in multimedia.

a quarter of the foreign bureaus have digital video cameras,” says
foreign editor Keith Richburg. “Our goal would be to get them out to
them all.”

The Post, of course, is not the first paper to have "reporters" do something other than write. And the Washingtonian piece notes that foreign correspondents have carried still cameras for ages, as do "reporters" at smaller newspapers.

Nor is the Post the first "newspaper" website to feature video ….. although one hopes that the New York Times, for example, is learning that creating compelling content is a distinctly different skill set from pointing the camera and hitting "record." (Not unlike the difference between reporting and stenography. Heh.)

Big important question: how many journalism schools are teaching students how to create multi-media content, not as an after-thought, but fully integrated into "news/reporting" classes? [I don’t know the answer … but my guess is "not many.]


* Bias reminder here:

My degree is journalism from UGA and my
focus has been words and still images. IMO, take away the
nation’s newspapers and there would be next-to-no-news on the air here
— radio or TV — the next day.

Evidence for my claim: Associated Press
— the major domestic news wire service — is a cooperative owned by its 1500 newspaper membersThe Rev. Sun Myung Moon owns UPI, distinctly second to AP for domestic wire news.

Other wire services would eventually fill in the gaps for global news, should papers cease publishing: Reuters is a publicly-held corporation (London) providing multi-media news services around the world, and AFP (Paris) — chartered by Parliment (1957) — is the world’s oldest established news agency.

Edited to fix STUPID typepad induced error with internal page anchor. I know, I know … Word Press is better.

Edited a second time to fix the incredibly SMALL and UNREADABLE type that "smaller" yields – 0.6em! How small might "small" be? Oh, larger than smaller, even though it’s further down in the sequence. Sheesh. The sequence is "Normal … smaller … small … large … larger." Stupid UI. For the TypePad coders, the correct sequence should be "largest … large … normal … smaller … smallest."

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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