The future of journalism is…

December 9, 2008 § Leave a comment

The Walla Walla High School Journal

I met with Gay Buissink, Journal advisor, to talk about how the high school students are using new media. Turns out they are not using the available web tools much for their journalistic endeavors. They only recently started to post online updates(Latest Wa-Hi News) and stories to the high school website. Gay said she was hoping to set up a website for the school paper in the next year or so. She also mentioned that when they got the opportunity to start posting content online it was a bit of a hard sell for some of the students. It was her opinion that most of the students were deeply invested in the printed version and felt the online component might be a distraction. These are high school students mind you. Students that could very well be future journalists. I quickly volunteered to give a quick new media presentation to the students.

I put together a short slide presentation about new media and how it should be an integral part of journalism. I gave them a quick overview of the state of the industry without unloading some of the more depressing information about buyouts, etc. I then moved into some of the online tools that we use at – the basics: Flickr, Twitter, WordPress, PBWiki, Google, etc. I talked a little about how these tools are not threatening journalism itself only its printed component. And how these online tools give journalist a wonderful opportunity to deliver their content to a wide range of people using a wide range of formats.

Then I spent a little time extolling Twitter. I gave a few recent examples of how Twitter was used to spread news and info during times of crisis.

“How many of you use Twitter or know what it is?”

There were about 20 or so students in the room. What number of them raised their hands would you guess?


One student knew what Twitter is.

Actually this isn’t all that surprising to me. My 14 year old has scoffed at my every mention of Twitter. I’ve recently read a blog post or two about that disconnect between young people and some of the online tools that many of us new media geeks get hyped up about ( I couldn’t find the appropriate links – bad use of Delicious on my part. So if anyone out there can point me in the right direction that would be great.)

I did see some knowing nods when I mentioned blogging, RSS and wikis. So why aren’t they incorporating it into their journalistic pursuits? One good sign was that their teacher/advisor Gay Buissink was writing down much of the information I mentioned.

Jeremy Gonzalez, the UB web producer, talked to the students about video. He had more success as far as the number of students who had actually shot video and posted it on sites like YouTube. All the students had either posted a video to YouTube or knew a friend who had. We are trying to find a way to tap that potential for our website. Can we motivate a few of those video camera-wielding students to shoot some footage at the next basketball game with a quick post-game interview? We’re not sure. We may end up offering some incentive – a gift certificate?

So how do we motivate these budding journalists to use the digital tools at their disposal? How can we feel comfortable passing on the reigns of an already uncertain profession and industry if are not confident that they truly grasp the present and future of journalism?

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