Months ago, I came across my favourite Twitter tweet: “I think the paranoia in print newsrooms has the older gen. scaring the younger ones out of being innovative.”
I meant to try and figure out where this person works. But in typical writer fashion, I didn’t have a deadline, kept putting it off and have since lost the name of the author and the will to try.
The message intrigues me. I change my mind about whether or not I agree with it. We have good days and bad days in my newsroom. We chase web hits and bend the learning curve by figuring out what makes readers tick. We drop the ball and revert to our print vices: Writing too long; slow to post; filling our website with wire; working on easy-hit stories we know are of no interest to anyone.
The tweet is right in that we still dig in our heels to maintain the old way of working. It’s comfortable at a time when we’re crying for stability. We shy away from bigger issues that can’t be done in a day — let’s change how we use our staff and spread the work over more days. We sometimes work on stories in the wrong order — finish the quick hits first and get them on the web.
We’re not asking the right questions to find out if an assignment has photo opportunities for a web gallery, or potential for video. We show up with the wrong equipment. “I wish I would have brought a video camera!” or “Wow, this video camera fits in my glove box.”
The tweet is wrong in that I don’t think we’re being sabotaged. Some of our younger staff are the most belligerent that we’re not aggregators and the web is the embarrassing side of the family, yet they’re pretty proud when their stuff gets lots of web hits. More experienced staff are making an effort, and making mistakes.
It all averages out in the end, I just hope that’s enough to graduate into a permanent career in digital journalism.
The Hyper Journalist