Archive | June, 2010

Hiatus

21 Jun

So I’m pretty sure I don’t have a whole lot of followers for this blog, but I figured I’d write this anyway. Starting tomorrow, I will be in Spain for six weeks, studying abroad. That means posting on the blog will likely not happen. I hope to get in a couple of posts about what I observe concerning Spanish journalism, but we’ll see how it goes. Catch everyone later!

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WTF, Mizzou?

10 Jun

I read about this about a week ago, but I haven’t gotten around to writing about it until now. The School of Journalism at the University of Missouri is restructuring itself and bucking all of the journalism “rules” that I’ve learned in the past five years. Students at Mizzou will now be able to choose from 25 areas of interest in which to major, including news design, international journalism and watchdog journalism.

This really threw me for a loop. All I’ve been hearing about is convergence, convergence, convergence. Needing to learn how to do a little bit of everything – write for print, write for broadcast, shoot and edit a TV package, develop web features, etc. Now, that’s not to say you can’t go your own route at KU – people usually attach themselves to, say, Jayplay or the Kansan or KUJH and concentrate their efforts there. And the students at Mizzou will still have to take a basic multimedia course like our Journalism 415. But the focuses between the two schools are now fundamentally different – take our new, single newsroom, for example. Another step toward convergence.

All this being said, I can’t decide whether I think  Mizzou is a genius or an idiot. I have, from time to time, wondered what convergence is doing to the quality of work in any one area. Logically, it seems like being forced to learn a little bit about everything means we’re not going to be as good at any one of those things. And I’ve increasingly started to take an interest in copy editing as my career field of choice – Would it be better to have a degree in news editing rather than just news and information?

On the other hand, newsrooms are shrinking. That’s not a secret. Revenue’s down, the transition into the digital world is still being figured out, and employers are making do with far less. Just check the job listings – news organizations want workers who can do it all. And I am glad that I can explore all of the different focuses of journalism at KU. I don’t have to choose – if I want to jump over to KUJH, although I most definitely don’t, nothing is stopping me.

All in all, I certainly think it will be interesting to compare KU and MU, two leading j-schools, to see how their respective paths pan out.

On a slightly unrelated note, here are some videos that say it all about Missouri!

Power of Photojournalism

6 Jun

So, I haven’t posted for quite a while. I’ve been busy moving into a new house in Lawrence, getting ready to travel to Spain and fighting a mid-summer cold.

The other day, however, I finally managed to plug myself back into the online world. I was surfing around, when I began to see some truly devastating images of oil-covered birds in Louisiana. The link to the pictures is here, if you can stomach looking at them. Be warned, it’s pretty heartwrenching.

If this doesn't upset you, you might re-evaluate your humanity.

The more I started researching, the more I saw these photos all over the Internet. On a NY Times blog, on Boston.com (where they’ve gotten almost 3,000 comments in three days), on NPR’s website and on Yahoo News. They also ran on front pages across the country. I became even more interested when I saw that the photos were taken by Charlie Riedel, an AP photographer and the father of a friend from high school.

Now, photojournalism definitely isn’t something that I know a lot about. In fact, I really don’t know much about it at all. But for me, these pictures, as devastating as they are, also offer some hope. Journalism, especially good journalism, still makes a difference. Sure, anybody can go out and take pictures of what they see and post them online. The NY Times is encouraging residents of the Gulf Coast to send in photos of the devastation they’re witnessing. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But Charlie Riedel has something these people don’t – training and experience, both of which he used to produce this amazing photojournalism.

We still need professionals like Mr. Riedel, to go places most of us can’t and to be a witness to history. His pictures really bring the tragedy of the ongoing oil spill home in a way nothing else has. Just by skimming the comments at Boston.com you can see that. It’s exciting to see how the Internet in this case has helped, not hindered, journalism. The web’s capabilities have allowed these photos to be seen by far more people and in far more venues than they would have 15 or 20 years ago. And good news venues have seized on their popularity by exploring other ways to talk about them – interviews with Mr. Riedel, the uploading of raw footage he shot while out photographing, discussions of ways BP might be restricting the access of photographers. All in all, these pictures represent for me a bright spot in the midst of a murky situation.