Let’s keep learning

I spend a lot of time talking. I spend a lot of time teaching. I spend even more time managing a newsroom these days.

Since returning to the newsroom full time after my stint as a Reynolds Journalism Institute fellow, I’ve learned it’s so hard to do things really well when I desperately want to change newsroom functions. I need to provide guidance to my reporters on so many levels. They need to cover legitimate local news. They need to find ways to deliver the information they’re gathering throughout they day. They also need to cover that information in on air newscasts. What is the priority? In my view, it should be online and online properties. But for many people who work in my newsroom, the newscasts are still getting priority. Why? Because I’m working in a traditional newsroom. No matter what, our major product is currently newscasts. I’m striving to transform and improve the many other alternate (and in my world more important) information outlets inside web and mobile tools. Growing pains.

I stood in front of a class today and admitted I don’t know everything. I told them that I’m still learning and that’s why I expect them to continue to learn. I am trying to be open minded. I want them to be open minded.

Journalists in this transformational age need to be open minded. Anyone who manages information or communication needs to be open minded.

So instead of spending non-stop time talking about what is going wrong, let’s focus on learning, listening and watching how people are communicating and ingesting information. Just watching can go a long way. Just experimenting can go a long way. Deciding new ideas are not worth trying just because it hasn’t been perfected is close-minded. Let’s keep learning and maybe, just maybe I’ll feel like I’m making a difference as I’m in the thick of my current newsroom absorption.

4 comments ↓

#1 Rob Weir on 10.14.09 at 7:29 am

Amen. Both at the Missourian and Vox, we have to deal with the fact that the print edition sucks a huge amount of our time that we could (theoretically) use for new media. It’s tough balancing those things.

#2 bonj on 10.28.09 at 12:24 pm

From, “Google’s Eric Schmidt on What the Web Will Look Like in 5 Years” – http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_web_in_five_years.php

•Within five years there will be broadband well above 100MB in performance – and distribution distinctions between TV, radio and the web will go away.

#3 bonj on 11.10.09 at 10:58 pm

Not being involved in a newsroom environment I am talking out of place and simply leaving some ramblings.

It seems to me that one of the contributing factors limiting you is that you are locked into filling a set amount of time at a set time everyday. New media does not limit you to that. You can pretty much report as little or as much as needed anytime with new media even covering different things at the same time via different methods of channeling content. Within the classic TV setting you are basically locked to one message at a time.

Of course, another problem TV is not interactive.

It wouldn’t be very feasible to simply stop the TV newscast, as you would lose the viewers and advertising dollars (not sure how all that works, especially in the University environment). I don’t think a message on the screen at news time saying go to our website/FaceBook/Twitter, etc. for today’s news would work either.

Other than huge breaking news, you can’t just interrupt all programs with tidbits throughout the day and leave it at that for the news either. People would be upset for missing out on parts of their scheduled shows.

Some still wouldn’t like it, but maybe you could promote your other media, possibly occasional popups/scrolling content from your cotweets on the screen during regularly scheduled programming.

In the world of classic newsrooms will you be able to recoup ad sales if you drive your audience away from the conventional newsroom to your virtual newsroom.

I think it might take a big change in the way that people/networks work with TV on a schedule. With the proliferation of DVRs, watching TV on a schedule probably isn’t as big of a deal, but everyone would still want to be able to capture all the content that they want via their DVR.

Now with all of that being said, can you gear all of your efforts to take all the items that one works within in new media and consolidate pieces of it everyday into a newscast with an anchor introducing clips, and condensing news topics tweeted by staff.

Do you break the two apart. One newsroom concentrates on new media and the other sticks to the regular newscast. Drop half of the students into the classic newsroom and half into new media. After a period of time have them switch. Then bring them altogether to see what they feel might fit from each. I imagine viewpoints will be a bit different from both groups based on which one they start out in. Or always have new students start in new media before transitioning into a rotation of classic media, thus trying to instill in them to bring as much as they can from new media into there roll in classic media rotation.

It might require a new channel format for a new generation.

Possibly start your own 24 hour news channel, that is only available streaming online (although once again you could possibly pull content from it for a traditional on air newscast if needed). I have an image of what you will sometimes see where there is video with stock ticker numbers all around it, but your video would be streaming live reporting, but instead of stock tickers, it would be pulling in your content from various formats (Twitter, Facebook, Wave, etc.). A lot of people could get on air practice, etc. I picture things being less polished at first, like the beginning of MTV or the old days when David Letterman started out. Your audience might be smaller, but it could also be much broader.

Hey you are awake 24 hrs a day already aren’t you.

#4 Jen Reeves on 12.02.09 at 9:31 am

I love your ideas. And I agree… We have to shift focus in how we deliver news but also look at ways to consolidate at the same time. It’s such an interesting time for the jurno world!

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