Going for the Gold: Are You a “Tra-Digital”* Journalist?

As we go marching, marching toward the emerging high-speed, multimedia, mobile, cross-platform future of news, I would like to know: Are you with? Do you go with the flow? Or fight the current? Are you leading, learning, adapting, evolving? Or are you fossilized, stuck on the sidelines, a bystander, secretly hoping for a back-to-nature movement that shuns the new journalism and embraces the basics?

Amid the shifting landscape of American media, there is a growing awareness that in order to survive and thrive, we must push and challenge ourselves in ways we never have before. Since we can’t expect to get or find jobs, we have to create them instead and be our own bosses. (Go ahead and hire yourself…or fire yourself for insubordination!) Can we, in this post-Seinfeldian universe, be the “masters of our own domains?” 

Yes, we can! We are the Olympic athletes of public media. We are pumped. We aim for our personal best. We triumph with speed and accuracy. We have team spirit. We respect our competitors. And, we’re always always in training.

Mashable recently sponsored an “inter-generational” dialogue between New York Times social media journalist Vadim Lavrusik and Sree Sreenivasan, Dean of Student Affairs at Columbia Journalism School. Lavrusik’s recent column for Mashable on “8 Must-Have Traits of Tomorrow’s Journalist” sparked the discussion.

The two identified these critical skills and traits every Future Journalist must have:

  • Multimedia Storyteller: using the right digital skills and tools for the right story at the right time.
  • Community Builder: facilitating conversation among various audiences, being a community manager.
  • Trusted Pointer: finding and sharing great content, within a beat, trusted to filter out the noise.
  • Blogger and Curator: has a personal voice, is curator of quality web content, participant in the link economy.
  • Collaborator: knowing how to harness the work of a range of people, colleagues, experts, citizen journalists, audience.

I highly recommend watching the archived video of their presentation and clicking through the powerpoint slides here.

Their final recommendation: “Be a Permanent Learner…Most journalists don’t appreciate how much better they’d be at their jobs if they were constantly learning new ideas and skills.”

In that spirit, I highly recommend the Knight Digital Media Center‘s Training Fellowship. It’s a competitive process, but if you get in, your only expense is travel to the Bay Area, and the training itself is excellent. The KDMC site also has links to many tutorials you can use to learn or refresh your memory.

AIR member and mentor Ann Heppermann, co-creator of MQ2’s Mapping Main Street, is headed to Berkeley next week for KDMC’s intensive Web 2.0 training. Over the course of 5 jam-packed days, she’ll be getting hands-on experience creating data-driven map mash-ups, data visualizations and publication widgets.  She’ll learn how to shoot, edit and post HD video, create SEO-smart blog posts, use Google and Facebook and Twitter, oh my!

In her application to participate in this training, Ann wrote, “One of the greatest lessons I learned is that as a producer and co-project manager of Mapping Main Street, I needed to expand my web skills in order to become a stronger member of the team. The Knight training will help me and those I mentor through AIR to gain the fluency of skills and language necessary to work with web designers, computer programmers and new media managers in all of journalism.”

Public media Olympian Ann Heppermann gets a medal! And watch this space in the coming week for a blog post about her travel, trials and training.

*Term coined by Sig Gissler of the Pulitzer Prizes.