Not your father’s newsroom

“We’re in the most exciting, amazing time in the history of journalism,” says Chet Rhodes, Deputy Multimedia Editor/Breaking News at washingtonpost.com. Rhodes spoke October 8 before a crowd of students and faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University. He says in the future, newspapers or newscasts will be just one of several types of content produced by a news organization. They’ll also be putting out information via cell phones, Web sites and devices that haven’t yet been imagined.

“The days of having just one skill is done. We really want people with multiple skills,” says Rhodes. However, Rhodes also says writing “is the fundamental thing on the Web and in all journalism.” For those still in school, Rhodes suggests they take the toughest print class available. “It will give you a lot of discipline about your writing.”

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Don’t drop local sports, change it

Market research indicates that sports is near the bottom of the list of reasons people give for watching local TV news. Some stations, most recently WTKR-TV in Norfolk, Va., have decided to drop the local sports segment to save money and make more time for news. Bad idea, says News8 Austin news director Kevin Benz:

If viewers are not interested in your sportscast, it may be because your sportscast doesn’t seem interested in your local viewers. If there is one thing a majority of the local news audience is interested and involved in (besides the weather) it is the athletic endeavor…I’m talking about the percentage of our viewers who run, walk, bike and swim for exercise. Those in our audience who spend vast amounts of their leisure time taking kids back and forth to soccer, little league, dance, gymnastics, softball or volleyball practice and games.

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