Journalism: Past, Present and Future (in a nutshell)

The distinction between undergraduate and graduate academic expectations is underscored more every day at Bootcamp. The sheer intensity of the program’s structure demands a level of focus and attention generally unfeigned (besides by a few “over achievers”) in undergrad years. On the most pertinent levels though, the arrangement makes sense. How else could we hear and learn from a diverse group of experienced professionals – people that were literally in our positions – on topics that reflect the all-encompassing and constantly evolving nature of our field?!

Having said that, the last few days presented a whirlwind tour of journalism in all it’s glory: from the nitty gritty details (grammar and style, anyone?) to award-winning Pulitzer photos (oohs and aahs abound); from ethics and responsibility (we are still humans, after all) to the low-down on investigative reporting (people will hate you). Through it all, despite the goose-bump raising temperatures of our computer labs, which serve as our lecture halls, my wetted appetite craves more.

POLITICS, WIRES AND HISTORY

“We know what we do, and we focus strenuously on that,” said David Mark, a Politico senior editor. And, if his prediction is correct, other news organizations are headed in the same direction. Politico, a newspaper/news Web site dedicated solely to national political developments, gained a strong reader base after its timely January 2007 launch; its coverage of the 2008 Presidential race provided an alternative model for news intake, proved more than a little desirable by its continued growth and strengthened relationship with the mainstream media community. Because Politico is “not a newspaper that then added a Web site many years later,” but it began with both and relies equally on both aspects, Mark said the publication fills a market niche for political junkies. Companies like ESPN and Bloomberg also succeed by remaining “highly segmented and specific,” said Mark, and Politico’s similar model suggests the future of general news publications may soon be outdated.

Whatever the fate of one-stop news, reliance on the US’s largest media organization – the Associated Press – is not likely to change any time soon. On a tour of the company’s new Washington Bureau, the intricacies and the evolution of news delivery are difficult to ignore; and the AP executes its role to an exceptional degree. By condensing all of the organization’s features – TV wires, radio wires, print wires, multimedia, etc. – into one building, the AP can effectively and efficiently monitor the intake, production and distribution of the news. In fact, Jeff Parsons, the director of operations for online video, said that every day half of the world’s population sees or hears news product generated from AP. It would be great to intern with them, but the selection process sounds pretty rigorous, and they only choose two candidates to actually intern: one in DC and one in NY. Obviously, they’re looking for the best of the best…more inspiration to learn EVERYTHING possible as early in the game as possible. The trick will be figuring out what I’m actually great at and developing it into a niche, which also seems to be an increasingly important trait.

Speaking of niches, news itself filled a niche in the museum industry. Confused? If you think about it, every museum in the world covers news. If something is in a museum it’s because, at least one point in time, it was a pretty big deal…right? Technology, art, crime, culture, natural history, politics, etc. Museums around the world are dedicated to those topics and more, because if the subject was significantly relevant to human history, it was news. So the people who thought to create a museum about the coverage of these topics, in my opinion, are brilliant.

Not to make this sound like any sort of PR pitch, but the Newseum is one of my favorite museums I’ve been to in a while. I could spend hours there…I did spend hours there, and still only got to about half of the exhibits. Of course, I may be biased, considering my career path. But it was so awesome to be able to see – and NOT touch – pieces of history; not just pieces of history, but elements that effectively changed the way Americans (and arguably the world) interact with history. Because, to me, that’s what news is: history in the making.

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2 comments

  1. Oooohhhh that’s fabulous! What a way to end your piece…. journalism is ‘history in the making.’

  2. Speaking of grammar and style, it’s “whet your appetite,” not “wet.” 😉

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