Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Reporters Getting Burned Out With New Technology

According to the National Press Club, news organizations are burning out reporters by demanding that they use more and more different types of technology to tell their stories.

Leading journalists said at a National Press Club forum at the University of Missouri that there is scant evidence that this new technology is bringing in enough revenue to save journalism jobs and support the news business, they said.

"I have been blogging for years," said Tony Messenger, a state capital bureau correspondent for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I have yet to have a discussion in my newsroom about why we're blogging and to tie that somehow into the newspaper's business model." He said he Twittered during a gubernatorial election debate, taking time from blogging and writing the next day's newspaper story. Yet just 13 people were following his Twitter posts. "I should be sitting down with editors and other reporters who are using this technology and discussing whether it worked for this situation or that situation," he said. "And how can we save jobs in the newsroom if we do this?"

Elaine Sciolino, the Paris correspondent for the New York Times, said she now is expected to post to the Web by noon, produce video for the Web, write for the Times-owned International Herald-Tribune, and still write a flawless story for the next day's Times. "You don't have a choice," she said. "If you want to be a journalist today, you just have to work harder and more efficiently. You aim for perfection until your deadline, and then you aim for doneness. You just gut it out."

Clearly, media outlets need to allocate appropriate resources for producing high-quality multimedia stories, and not simply throw extra tasks at, and require extra skill sets from, already overburdened print reporters, who are already taking up the slack for their laid-off colleagues. The greatest print reporter in the world is not necessarily a great videographer, on-camera interviewer, video editor, and most importantly is not equipped to tell narrative stories visually. That's a separate art form, and news organizations need to hire and train the right people to do that -- in conjunction with text writers/reporter/editors.

Read more here.

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