Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Evolve or Die (But remember the basics)

Evolve or die has been my motto since I started in this business.

Journalism and journalists have to move on. I accept this and, with some exceptions, I relish this.

Some of you young 'uns may not believe this but I advocated the use of the internet in my office when it was in its infancy.

My boss dismissed it as useless. "It's just for porn," he declared. This was in the early to mid 90s.
By the late 90s I was working on a major national daily and I was telling experienced hacks how to search online for the subjects of stories. I explained search engines as like a major extension of the cuts library. They had not a clue.

I still push the internet as one of journalism's greatest tools. I am Generation X. I had a mobile phone before any of my friends. It was a brick and had an actual aerial. I was cool.

Now I continually ask my reporters (and these are supposedly Generation Next reporters) if they have googled the subjects in the story. Flesh on the bones and all that malarkey. I normally get a response in the negative. Do you do it?

I like new technology and I embrace internet journalism because I know at some point in the future I will be uploading this blog into a node in my head so that your cranial nodes can read it.

But new technology cannot replace old skills.

Even I laughed when old hacks told how they typed out copy on a typewriter (non-electric) to be handed to their editor on a sheet of fullscap. He would make the relevant changes (on paper) or put it on an actual spike where it would remain forever more.

Hot metal and hundreds of production staff. Things have changed.

But the job really hasn't. Journalism is the obtaining, simplifying and spreading of information. However it is distributed.

Don't forget free papers are quite recent inventions. They are just a different method of distributing the product. Same with t'internet.

Embrace it, move with it, but don't get lost in it.

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