Speling counts, gramer and punctuation too

Yes, I know the headline is misspelled (and yes, there are two s’s in misspelled). Does this matter to broadcast journalists? You bet it does. But it’s a relatively new concern, says KARE-TV reporter Joe Fryer.

We really didn’t need to worry about having perfect punctuation in our scripts for many years because no one ever saw them. But now we have to write web scripts, which means YOU get to see our punctuation. It’s not always pretty.

Joe makes a good case for sweating the details in this blog entry that had me cheering. Notice, I didn’t say “cheering aloud.” That would have been redundant, wouldn’t it? (Check here for the answer.)


Where are the journalism jobs?

Michelle Hord, director of off-air recruiting for ABC News, says the answer to the question–where are the journalism jobs–is just one word: Digital. “We have new terms like preditors, producers who can also shoot and edit,” she told the Future of Journalism Jobs conference at the University of Maryland. ” It’s all about being able to do everything.”

Jim Joyce, senior vice president of NABET (a union that mostly represents TV technicians), also works at ABC on the technical side. He says there are plenty of jobs “in acquisition, distribution and preparation.” “We have material being delivered on smart phones and with digital [broadcasting] we can send out multiple streams on secondary channels.” All of that content needs to be provided and transmitted.

Holly Neilsen, director of video enterprises for Gannett, says “the jobs are going to be there but they’re going to be really different and you’re going to have to be trained differently to do those jobs.” At Gannett, everything is multimedia. “We are reformatting all of our newsrooms to be multimedia 24/7. Everyone is getting new titles. There won’t be line producers any more.” As for backpack journalism, she says, it isn’t new but it’s going to be a big deal. “It may be unpopular but it’s reality.”

Blow up the newsroom

It happened a year ago at the Naples Daily News. Print reporters and photographers were all told that they no longer worked for the paper, says Phil Lewis, editor and vice president of naplesdailynews.com/Naples Daily News. They were all transferred to dot.com–which the company now sees as a kind of local wire service–and they file their stories first online. The newspaper staff is now 75 percent smaller, made up primarily of copy editors, designers and layout people. And the company’s approach to the news has changed dramatically as a result, Lewis told the Future of Journalism Jobs conference at the University of Maryland.

In the past, hurricane planning was always about how we would get the newspaper printed. Where will we print if we had no power? Where will we move the copy desk? This year, it was about how to tell people what is happening in real time. Our readers will evacuate to Orlando, they’ll be in a hotel room online on their laptops and we have to get them information.

Lewis wants naplesdailynews.com to become THE source of information for all of those people, wherever they are. “I think our site should post our stories and [link to] what everybody else has too,” including local television and social networking sites. That’s causing some angst in his newsroom, but it sounds like smart business to me and it could actually improve the quality of the journalism. As Lewis points out, if you’re going to make it easy for your users to see what else is out there, “we’d better be doing it best.”

Future of news jobs

A conference today at the University of Maryland underlined what we’ve been saying about the importance of learning new ways of thinking if you want to be in the news business. Ed Foster-Simeon, deputy managing editor at USA Today, put it bluntly: “The people who are most successful are comfortable with change.” And one thing you can count on is that change is constant.

Interacting with the Web used to mean reporters had to file stories earlier so they could be posted on the Web. Now, it means ‘I have to think about my story differently. What can I do on the Web that will enhance my reporting?’ It takes a different mindset. And the best beat reporters are thriving.

But a study released in conjunction with the conference suggests that in newspapers, at least, many existing employees aren’t taking all this change in stride. More than half said they are anxious about demands to learn new things in order to do their jobs. Seventy-three percent said they aren’t sure or don’t think they’ll be working at a newspaper five years from now. But keep in mind that the study only went out to union members and that the Communications Workers of America and the Newspaper Guild sponsored the survey. We don’t know if those same people think they’ll still be working in some kind of journalism because the survey didn’t ask. And we don’t know how broadcast journalists would answer the same questions.

But we do know that journalism jobs already have changed.

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