HERE’S MY ANSWER TO THE QUESTIONS I KEEP GETTING ASKED:
WHAT IS NEW MEDIA? WHAT EXACTLY ARE YOU DOING IN IT? WHY EXACTLY ARE YOU DOING THIS?
(I took this post from my About the Blog page, which nobody reads so I’m moving it here.)
I’m a former newspaper reporter now teaching New Media Communications at Oregon State University. My students require an entirely new set of skills and talents far more technologically sophisticated than my Gen X peers did when we came up, when “media” was called “journalism” and things made more sense.
Now there’s a whole generation of editors and profs working under a whole new set of rules, trying desperately to hold onto as many of the old values of content, substance, accuracy, fairness, justice and professionalism while learning to Fark and Twitter and Vodcast and Podcast, Twitter my Tweets and Optimize my Search Engines.
This blog is me writing from that tightrope, balancing like we all are, on what feels like a crossroads made of dental floss. The extra trick for me is that this journey of technologizing and socially mediating my media is not one I’m making alone. I actually have to teach students what I know, while I’m learning it.
So there it is.
Like New Media itself, those of us who came up in Old School, big-city newspaper journalism are flailing in transformation. We have a trove of essential journalistic skills. We are diligent and enterprising reporters, skilled and empathic interviewers. We have a hound’s nose for news. We see stories leaping out of the woodwork and we know how to report the hell out of them and make them sing. We can pound out a 1500-word story in 24 minutes that does the readers and sources justice. We demand fairness, balance and accuracy of ourselves and our work.
We still believe deeply in the old saw about afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.
We learned on typewriters, moved up to Trash 80s and portabubbles; we transmitted stories through pay phone lines and the raw nerve of deadline dictation. We did not fight technology. No siree. We embraced the newfangled. We boogied and House Partied onto the Internet and got our first e-mail accounts in the 90s. We rode the Information Superhighway, pal. I mean, all our aerobics classes played Techno music!
But the story was still king. We worked on our own time writing those long Sunday Page One features about how the system failed the most vulnerable of us. We gave voice to the voiceless.
We wrote tight and bright when our bosses went to management conferences and learned we all had to write like USA Today.
We embraced the long and winding narrative lead where the nut graph didn’t make it before the jump.
We wrote touchy-feely trend thumbsuckers on parenting when our Boomer bosses started having kids.
When our bosses made us rip a comb through our hair and run an iron over our clothes we chugged down our Joe, spiffed up and dragged our perk-o-lated selves onto televsion spots, learning how…to…speak….using…a….telepromp….ter….um…without….um…cursing…much.
After two decades of the frantic, hectic, adrenalinized daily news life, you expect us to do WHAT now? Podcast and vodcast and slideshows? Yahoo who? Facebook my what? Film it? Blog it? Twitter it? Digg it? FARK it?
Alrighty then, we say. Bring it.