The 2009 journalist: some ideas from Paris

One of France’s main journalism schools, the Centre de Formation des Journalistes, has just launched a revamped new media curriculum, where all students are now required to specialize in new media on top of their traditional skills.

The program was 2.0’d from the start, back in June, when Philippe Couve brought together the crème de la crème of the French blogosphere to outline what the 2009 journalist should look like.

The participants agreed that journalists will need to excel in what used to be their core competency, namely to gather, sort, order and check information. Now, they’ll just have to do that online, with the help of a community of amateurs they’ll manage and, hopefully, leverage.

Besides trading the pen and Moleskine for an N95, journalists will need to work with IT people so that news organisations will be able to display content in compelling ways, Holovaty-style.

They’ll also develop skills to edit content themselves and they’ll keep these up-to-date.

Finally, as the web means more and more fragmentation and individualisation, they’ll know the mechanisms of the new economy and they’ll be able to read and react to audience figures.

The 2009 journalist will stand at a crossroads between the traditional, passé reporter, the techie and the marketing guy. How can such a ménage à trois work within a single body?

Three weeks after the start of the programme, it appears it’ll take some time. Emmanuel Parodi, business developer at Les Echos and lecturer in the programme, was surprised how little students knew about Digg, RSS, Facebook and the like. As they all have to keep a blog and a netvibes account for the duration of the programme, no doubt such technical shortcomings will be overcome quickly.

The lecturers’ bête noire remains the students’ conviction that participative journalism inherently devalues their work. Students are told they will have to share some power with the hoi polloi and they fear it, says Parodi.

Lecturing on the online media economic landscape myself, I was taken aback when some students affirmed that their raison d’être was to safeguard democracy (sic) and that their noble mission could not suffer being hampered with financial considerations. A flurry of anti-capitalistic jabber followed, underlining the difficulty of getting some journalists to think of themselves as economic agents.

When someone is utterly convinced she’s above the economy, the need to adapt when the economy changes clearly does not cross her mind. No matter how much XML or Java they learn.

This article was written by Nicolas Kayser-Bril, one of the Online Journalism Blog’s Virtual Interns

6 thoughts on “The 2009 journalist: some ideas from Paris

  1. Laura Oliver

    A journalism training course that covers business and management strategies in addition to new media tactics sounds like a step in the right direction.

    While I’m not surprised that, as you point out, these aspects of the training are not readily accepted by some students – their idealism is not entirely misplaced but a hangover from responses to ‘why I want to be a journalist’ questions – once they leave training and start work they’ll soon be grateful of the business acumen they have acquired from this course.

    Not only will they come to realise the opportunities that are available in new media, if only one has a little business knowledge or economic understanding, but it will also aid their ability to adapt and report on and within shifting new media models.

    Many will realise this beforehand and will have an even greater headstart on their peers and competitors.

  2. Pingback: Retrato Robot do jornalista do Futuro | Future’s Journalist Mug Shot « O Lago | The Lake

  3. Mary Nguyen

    Dammit, can’t read the French site. But it sounds like the right direction. I am becoming increasingly frustrated getting through a postgraduate journalism degree in Sydney, Australia, which does not close the gap between the theory & the practicality.

  4. Bas Timmers

    It’s almost hilarious, if it weren’t serious. Newspaper journalists still pretend that they’re not part of a product. Well, they are, they were, and always will be. If your paper aims at a serious, well-educated audience, that’s called marketing, folks. If you don’t think publishing is economy, well, wait until you see some massive lay-offs. Idealism? Very good, yes. But the days that reporters can always tell what the world looks like is over. You might be an opinion maker still, yes, but only one of many. Wake up, please.


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