Message to journalism & broadcast teachers…

This is a message to all who teach journalism and broadcasting – primarily on the high school level, but pretty much anyone who is teaching to a rapidly evolving field. I snoop around on listservs and blogs and there seems to be a growing awareness (duh) and a slight feeling of panic (oh yeah) about the fact that newspapers are disappearing. What is being taught in many high schools may no longer be a practical skill set, but outdated.

So here’s the message: I’ve been watching the convergence/morphing/disappearance of media for the past five or six years.

What you are seeing is momentous – historic. Nothing like this has happened since the invention of the printing press. Even radio and television did not have the effect on media that the Internet has. Both of the former merely adapted what was there to fit their format.

The Internet is forcing changes and literally destroying the old media.

Throwing up your hands and bemoaning what is inevitable will not help.

What will help is working with your bright young students who are technophiles and asking them what they would do. Somewhere out there is the genius or geniuses who will tie together the best of the old and new – and I strongly suspect it won’t be some old geezer who can’t see anything because they keep looking back to the past rather than forward.

Toss this out to your classes – ask them what they love about each type of media and what they hate. Ask them to design the perfect media – what elements would they keep/what would they toss.

These are scary times…my former freshman/now seniors are almost crying because what they are studying for is fast disappearing. Sometimes you can’t follow in footsteps already there…you have to be a leader and make your own trail.

Final note: the heart and soul of what you are teaching remains the same. Good solid research, sticking to the facts, neutral stance, clear writing. What is changing is where and how the audience accesses the information. Your students are probably way ahead of your there – and many of you may have your hands tied (I know I do) by districts that live in fear of the Internet.

A local school had a spot of bad news in my area this past week and parents were texting kids about what was happening before most of the staff was aware of the news. Kids on computers were pulling up stories off the local newspaper and TV websites. Kids walk into my classroom asking to Bluetooth songs to my computer so they can use them in projects. They Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, email, AIM, and text the way we walk and talk.

Use that power and have them tell you what the future is.

7 thoughts on “Message to journalism & broadcast teachers…

  1. First, great article with an important, timely message.

    Second, I do want to ask that question to my students. I like it and if I get any interesting responses, I’ll share it on my blog and link back to this article.

    Third, our kids are not always ahead of us and we shouldn’t always assume that. I know myself that I fall into that trap. I tell my kids that I learned something on Twitter and they stare at me with blank faces. They have no clue about Twitter. But then they text at a million mile/hour. They show me how to add a song directly from an iPod to my iTunes playlist. We all use tech in so many ways now. There is so MUCH tech in so many places. I think we all must do our best to keep learning about how to use the new technologies that are changing how we live our lives.

  2. My kids are so poor that they are not usually ahead of me, I’m telling them about web 2.0 tools and they are amazed. But, they are able to jump right in and use these tools without any fear (well, most of them). I do believe that the answer to our future lies with these kids and they will lead us. We live in interesting times, and I’m pretty excited to be able to witness it.

  3. Teach & DK…thanks for the input. I’ll put the question to my students too. Too many of them rely on other people to give them news…when I poll students every term, I ask what their primary and secondary news sources are – what do they consider reliable news sources. Too many say relatives, friends, other people…although generally TV news is right up there, followed by newspapers. Radio is unheard of (sorry for the pun)…Internet is always strong.

    I guess what bothers me about using other people is it means they are not gathering and processing information themselves. They rely on others to gather and condense information.

    Hmmmmm…isn’t that what professional journalists to already? Maybe we need a “Trust-A-Friend” network.

  4. Great Post!

    I think nobody knows what the perfect media is. So many things in media outlets now are just experimentation.

    I also think that we assume that our students are ahead of us in Internet but very often it is just not true. If the kinds know how to update their Facebook status, it does not make them Internet geniuses. And good professors/educators should know about online media more than their students.

  5. I just got home from a meeting in SF for a startup Internet news site that will cover local San Francisco only news.
    Not jaded pros, but folks who studied to become newsies and have been left in the lurch due to the changes in the industry.
    They are passionate and feel that the traditional media has deserted its audience, catering to large regional audiences.
    They are feeling their way…tentative and passionate.
    And if you can believe it, the site is funded by a guy who drives a taxi to pay the bills and keep the project going.
    Wow.
    Oh – they can’t answer the critical question: who should pay for content.
    I’m sure they’d like to find that out cause unless someone steps in with bucks, their endeavors may come to naught.

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