Tag Archives: Andy Dickinson

Should journalism degrees still prepare students for a news industry that doesn’t want them?

UPDATE (Aug 7 ’08): The Annual Survey of Journalism & Mass Communication Graduates suggests employment opportunities and salaries are not affected.

J-schools are generally set up to prepare students for the mainstream news industry: print and broadcasting, with a growing focus on those industries’ online arms. There’s just one small problem. That industry isn’t exactly splashing out on job ads at the moment…

The LA Times is cutting 150 editorial jobs and reducing pages by 15%; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution cutting nearly 200 jobs; the Wall Street Journal cutting 50 jobs; Thomson Reuters axing 140 jobs; in the UK Newsquest is outsourcing prepress work to India, while also cutting jobs in York and Brighton; Reed Business Information, Trinity Mirror and IPC are all putting a freeze on recruitment, with Trinity Mirror also cancelling its graduate training scheme and cutting subbing jobs. In the past two months almost 4,000 jobs have vanished at US newspapers (Mark Potts has this breakdown of June’s 1000 US redundancies). In the past ten years the number of journalists in the US is said to have gone down by 25%.

Given these depressing stats I’ve been conducting a form of open ‘panel discussion’ format via Seesmic with a number of journalists and academics, asking whether journalism schools ought to revisit their assumptions about graduate destinations – and therefore what they teach. The main thread is below.

The responses are worth browsing through. Here’s my attempt at a digest: Continue reading

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BASIC principles of online journalism: B is for Brevity

In the first part of a five-part series, I explore how and why a talent for brevity is one of the basic skills an online journalist needs – whether writing an article or employing multimedia. This will form part of a forthcoming book on online journalism – comments very much invited.

It shouldn’t have to be said that the web is different, but I’ll say it anyway: the web is different. It is not print, it is not television, it is not radio.

So why write content for the web in the same way that you might write for a newspaper or a news broadcast?

Organisations used to do this, and some still do. It was called ‘shovelware’, a process by which content created for another medium (generally print) was ‘shovelled’ onto the web with nary a care for whether that was appropriate or not.

It was not.

People read websites very differently to how they read newspapers, watch television or listen to radio. For a start, they read 25% slower than they do with print – this is because computer screens have a much lower resolution than print: 72 dots in every square inch compared to around 150-300 in newspapers and magazines (this may change, but usage patterns are likely to stay the same for some time yet).

As a result, you need to communicate your story in less time than you would in print. You need to develop brevity. Continue reading

Do you work in newspaper video journalism?

Andy Dickinson is conducting a short survey to gather information about how video is produced in newspaper newsrooms and who does it. The results will be made available on his blog – www.andydickinson.net.

Sounds like a great idea – it’s a one-page job so quick to fill out. Fill out the survey here.