It was one of the most profound advises, Andrew Devigal, the Multi-media editor of the New York Times, and many other media advisors, offered to the student journalists, attending a college media convention in New York city on the second week of March.
Hundreds of student journalists, working at college newspapers across the United States, attended the Spring 2010 National Convention, organized by College Media Advisors, Inc.
The three-day annual convention, starting from March 14, highlighted the emergence of new media and gave the student journalists trainings on different tools to new media and professional advises.
Veteran and current senior journalists working at the nation’s leading newspapers and media organizations, including the New York Times, ABC, Associated Press, and TIME Magazine, gave presentations and keynote speeches at the conference. Many of them also sat down with young journalists, who are about to enter into the profession within a few years, and offered some handy advises.
Green Mountain College’s students, Ryan Horvath, Jennifer Montagne, and Wai Phyo Myint, who work as the editorial team members of the GMC’s student newspaper, the Mountaineer, were among the participants at the conference.
On the first day of the convention, Devigal discussed in his presentation session, “Multimedia storytelling at the New York Times,” about some of the inspiring work the Times has been producing by using different media.
Devigal suggested student reporters to have awareness about possible technologies and limitations so that they know which tools and platforms can be used to tell stories in a more efficient and engaging manner.
“Know what platforms are available,” Devigal suggested. “Collaboration (interactive news, photo, graphics, video, designs, multimedia) in presenting the stories is the key to get more engaged with audience,” Devigal said.
Devigal discussed, how the Times’s journalist and photographer collaborated with the web-designer to produce the photo/audio video clip (photos, audio, music, and narration) about the stories of the Haiti earthquake victims in last January.
However, Devigal encouraged young journalists to pick a particular specialization and collaborate with different professionals in the field.
While Devigal is not the only presenter highlighting the need of specialization in the 21st century journalism, many media advisors suggested that the student journalists having specialization and passion are still the most important keys to a success in journalism.
Many speakers also expressed their concerns about the declining of the mainstream journalism, effecting the quality investigative reporting.
The emergence of new media changed the job nature in journalism. To build a career in journalism, multi-tasking skills are required rather than a particular skill in reporting.
“Journalism is dying. About 400 jobs have been cut in my office during last year. Investigative reports are really costly. Vast untold stories are out there.” Terry Morgan, who’s a co-anchor of ABC News ‘Nightline’ and Supreme Court correspondent for the network, told in his keynote speech at the convention.
The future of newspapers, along with the future of many professionals have been uncertain. Since the early years of the 21 century, newspapers have been closed down, media organizations are cutting the number of jobs, some positions are totally eliminated. Many surviving newspapers are also struggling with a steady decline of the number of readership.
“Most young people do not read print newspapers. It is one of the reasons that print is dead,” Toni Albertson, a media advisor of the college newspaper of Mt. San Antonio College, The Mountaineer, in California said in her presentation.
Albertson said that in the United States, in 1999, only 22 percent of the 18-24 aged group read print newspapers but the number declined to nine percent in 2010.
Toni Albertson and two students presented how they try to keep their college newspaper, the Mountaineer, alive in the middle of a great transaction to new media.
In response to the decline of job opportunities in journalism, college and universities in the United States are closing down their journalism programs.
“According to the survey result we conducted, 19 out of 100 colleges/universities in California cancelled their journalism program. If the program got cancelled and it is more likely to be permanent and it will never be back. We found out that many other colleges and universities cut the budget for the program.”
“College campuses are the only place print is still working well. On campuses, people are still reading newspapers,” Albertson explained.
Out of student journalists and media advisors attending Albertson’s presentation session, there was only one college which has had a complete transaction of the school print newspaper to on-line version. Majority of the college newspapers said that they are not ready to take a complete transaction to the new road to a new model of news delivery.
However, like larger newspapers, many college newspapers have no other options but to work on the transition to new media with the use of innovative technology to get more engaged with readers.
The convention also provided the students some training sessions to new media literary – Final Cut Pro, Audio editing/ mastering for broadcast with Audition 3, and other new technology review sessions.
(This story was published in my college’s newspaper, The Mountaineer.)