Last week when I wrote about things you should never say in a newsroom I really wanted to add this one. But I decided it deserved a whole post of its own. I’m talking about people who say…
“I’m rubbish with technology”?
People actually do say this in newsrooms – particularly when they want someone else to do something for them.
But that old excuse is wearing a bit thin now. And it’s time to put a stop to it.
Why? Because it’s no different to saying you’re “rubbish at using the telephone”. And the telephone, now, is just one of a number of technologies that are central to doing the job.
The more of those ‘technologies’ there are, the less acceptable it is to make excuses about them.
UPDATE (Nov 2013): Matt Waite’s Minimum Viable Participant for journalism courses indicates the start of a cultural change here. It includes the following requirement of all applicants: “Know how to learn new things without formal instruction”
Because really, what do you mean by technology? Pencils? Dictaphones? If you know how to use Google Maps on your smartphone or how to share an image on Facebook then how exactly are you ‘rubbish with technology’?
Surely, if a journalist – a professional researcher and communicator – has managed to overcome their fear of technology to share photos with friends on Facebook, or record notes in shorthand, then they can overcome it to reach contacts on Twitter, or interview a spreadsheet.
Perhaps the problem comes with that shapeless mass of unfamiliar ‘technology’ that hasn’t been used yet (or perhaps the intern was always on hand to sort out).
It’s as if a person got a toolbox and knew what to use the hammer and the screwdriver for, but nothing else… until they needed to saw a plank of wood in half.
At the moment aspiring journalists who say they are ‘rubbish with technology’ are like people trying to saw that plank of wood with a Phillips screwdriver: it kinda works, but it takes much longer, and in the meantime other people are going home with a lovely pair of book-ends.
So perhaps the point is to find a story you want to cover and communicate so strongly that the technology becomes just what it is: a tool that makes your life easier, and not a chore to be ticked off.
And never tell anyone in the newsroom you’re rubbish with technology again.