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Columnist wonders if technology is killing journalism

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by WolvEagle, Sep 8, 2011.

  1. WolvEagle

    WolvEagle Well-Known Member

    Interesting column from Jack Lessenberry in the Metro Times, an alt weekly in metro Detroit:


    It's an interesting take that has generated lots of debate on the file's message board (including a response from the editor in question).

    Jack is a former Detroit News reporter who now teaches journalism at Wayne State University in Detroit, is an NPR commentator and is the Toledo Blade ombudsman in addition to his Metro Times gig.

    Part of me wants to say that Jack is being too old-fashioned - time has passed him by. Part of me wants to say that he's right about focusing on good, old-fashioned journalism.

    The future of our profession rides on striking a balance.

    What do you think, fellow SportsJournalists.commers?

    As an aside, I know Jack and the editor in question. And did he really have to mention that she's a widow? (I knew her husband, too - a great guy.)
  2. prezclinton

    prezclinton Active Member

    I didn't get that vibe. I felt like he was more concerned about the overuse of technology was watering down what reporters are there to do, report. I've worked at a JRC paper, thank god that's in the past tense. The amount of work they want people to do is absurd and makes it virtually impossible to write a good story, especially covering sports on deadline. And like the writer said, who the fuck cares enough about a city council meeting to follow it in a live chat or watch video of it? It's nice to have the ability to cover things in a much more in depth way but that doesn't mean you need to cover everything that way. It's overkill. Pick your spots.
  3. rpmmutant

    rpmmutant Member

    Technology killed newspaper journalism because newspapers still don't embrace the various ways technology allows journalists to tell a story.
    It's still possible to write a good story. Technology gives us the ability to add video elements, photo galleries, podcasts and other interactive elements newspapers just can't do.
  4. mrbigles01

    mrbigles01 Member

    For my money, Mr. Lessenberry hit it the nail right on the head on every single one of his points. Technology allows us to do incredible things, but it is time consuming and costly to do many of those things. We need to decide when and how much technology is appropriate for any given story, and in some places that doesn't seem to be the model at all.

    For what its worth, the paper I work for is 100% behind a pay wall on the web and we do not use social media much at all. We also posted a profit again this year, and have in each of the last five. We are a unique case (A small and isolated community and we are the only game in town) but still, its worked for us.
  5. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    I agree with the crowd on this. Video is good if it's, say, of a penalty kick in soccer. Frankly, no one gives a shit of video of the town council meeting, unless some guy goes nuts. And to get that 10 seconds of the guy going nuts, you have to film three hours of chaff.
  6. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    There is never anything interesting from Jack Lessenberry. He is fucking dilettante who made a career out of telling people what to do in journalism without ever working a beat. At the O&E where he was VP of editorial, he ripped the reporters for not working hard enough at a fucking company awards banquet, then was backed up against a wall and arm-barred in the chest by the paper's GM. That's right, a beancounter stuck up for the reporters when ripped at a fuzzy feel-good by Lessenberry.
    People think every word out of his crappy columns is fucking gospel when its throw shit against the wall and see what sticks.
    Fuck him. Fuck him. Fuck him. (I'd say fuck you for posting this, but I've used my quota of fucks tonight)
  7. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    I think news managers think gizmos and other technology will "save" newspapers - simply because they don't understand either technology or newspapers.
    Newspapers are a product. The product has to be good. Technology is a delivery system. The technology has to be good. Sure we depend on technology now, as much as we used to rely on little Jimmy down the street to put the paper right on the welcome mat. But people aren't buying the paper because they are amazed at Jimmy's accuracy with his throws - technology can keep people from using your product, but the product is the product. You can slice and dice a story five ways to Sunday with chats, graphs, polls and photo gallery's but that's just presentation - you still have to make a product that people value. Nobody buys a product because of the packaging.
    On second thought - come to think of it - maybe newspapers SHOULD go after younger readers and ask Nike to redesign newspaper.
  8. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Well-Known Member

    "It's still possible to write a good story. Technology gives us the ability to add video elements, photo galleries, podcasts and other interactive elements newspapers just can't do."

    In theory.

    In practical terms, if you ask the same person to write a story, shoot video, do a podcast and then blog and tweet, is any of that going to be the best it could be, given deadlines and the pressure to produce volume?

    Will the reporter make as many calls as before, do as much research, bring as much focus and creativity to bear, have the ability to shoot and edit high-quality video, have the time to do all of the above? Are there enough staffers to share the workload?

    How many places have the staff and resources to do that, and sustain it, with strong enough quality to attract enough audience and ads to be self-sustaining? Not many, from what I've seen. There's a lot of multimedia out there that's mediocre or worse, and now it accompanies a watered-down story.
  9. Gomer

    Gomer Active Member

    I tried shooting video, editing video, doing a voiceover, writing the 500-word gamer, doing the layout, writing the headline, editing my own copy and finishing off three pages all on my own. I was proud of the work I did but I had to work two hours of overtime to do it.

    Now, I don't do the video and I don't pull overtime because my company doesn't want to pay me any more. They'll get what they pay for.
  10. prezclinton

    prezclinton Active Member

    And if you see what passes for good video at JRC ... Quantity over quality is the key.
  11. WolvEagle

    WolvEagle Well-Known Member

    I definitely know you're not a fan of him (for good reason), but I thought it was worth putting out there to spark a discussion.
  12. Mystery Meat II

    Mystery Meat II Well-Known Member

    Here's my question: Can the reporting as a whole be better with the other elements, like video and live blogging, even if the written story is a little weaker? Or is the reporting defined exclusively by the written story?
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