Making sense of the digital world despite the myths

March 10, 2011

The world of journalism brings with it an enormous amount of confusion, as we are in one of the biggest transition period since the printing press. In his article “5 Myths about digital journalism” Mark S. Luckie speaks of several points of confusion, and tries to debunk them.

The first myth he speaks of is journalists must know everything. According the Luckie this myth could not be farther from the truth. As he puts it, “the trick is not to be a master of everything, but to be knowledgeable about the tools at your disposal.” Imagine this: you are a company-owner seeking to hire somebody for your press department. You have one candidate who is an expert on web design but does not know much about social media and one candidate who knows a little bit about web design, writing, photography, and videography. Who would you be more inclined to hire? Probably the second candidate with experience in several different aspects of multimedia.

The second myth Luckie speaks about in his article is social media is the answer. The world of Twitter and Facebook has allowed us to connect with our audiences in ways that were inconceivable less than a decade ago. As the journalism ship is sinking, it is easy for us to become caught up in the idea that it will be the clear answer that will save us all. Nobody, “not even social media gurus” knows what is going to save journalism. All that we can do is use “social media to help augment and distribute the news” and to make “audiences more invested in the development and discussion of news.” If that is enough to save journalism remains to be seen.

The third myth in this article is journalists must have database development skills. Although it is good to have some skill with web page development, Luckie essentially tells us that we just aren’t as good at . He explains, “unless a journalist has a knack for computer programming and web development skills, the quality of work they can produce cannot match the level of expertise of a dedicated programmer or developer.” Don’t let these words discourage you from practicing web design, though. Who knows, one day you might even be considered your organization’s resident Internet expert!

The fourth myth is that comments suck and that they are essential for democracy. Many people believe that comments are awful. As Luckie puts it, “truly civil and engaging comment threads that news sites strive to cultivate are far and in between.” The reason for such unsuccessful message boards is not necessarily the fault of our readers, however. We cannot control the fact that some lunatics frequent our websites and like to voice their opinions. What we can control is if we allow those users to post comments. By making use of tools such as Facebook Connect and “flag comment” features, we can take positive steps necessary towards the truly engaging conversations we desire.

The last myth he talks about in his article, which is perhaps the most reassuring point he makes, is that there are no journalism jobs. It is indeed true that there are much more applicants for a much smaller amount of jobs today. It is also true that “journalism jobs that existed decades ago are often not the jobs that are available.” Don’t let these facts hinder your decision to go in to journalism though. With the tremendous growth in online journalism ventures, journalists just need to learn to look in unexpected places for jobs. Rather than being set on print journalism, look towards jobs in social media or other multimedia aspects. Also, remember to “set yourself apart from the pack by developing diverse and unique skills.” If you practice with Twitter and blogging, photography and Photoshop, and with sound editing software such as Audacity, you will stand out from the enormous group of unemployed, and will very quickly receive job offers.

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