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 What is being taught in many high schools may no longer be a practical skill set, but outdated.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.