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Follow-up: Fundamentals will always matter in journalism

Last weekend, I posted about the advice Midwestern newspaper editors have for up-and-coming young journalists. Mindy McAdams did a much better job on summarizing in detail what it all means.

I just wanted to follow-up with a link to the executive editor of my paper’s take on that job fair and what she says you need to break in: The foundation of good journalism never changes.

From Julie Doll’s weekly column (emphasis mine):

But there also were students who wanted to write news or features. Others wanted to be photographers or page designers. And a growing group style themselves as multi-media — ready to go anywhere with a notebook, a video camera, a regular camera and a digital recorder and become a one-man reporting band for the Web, TV, the paper, you name it.

The skills and talents of the students varied — as is usually the case in these kinds of settings. Some colleges and universities are now more than a decade behind the technology curve that has changed not just how we report and publish news but how the world consumes it. Others offer Internet and multi-media, but separate it from traditional journalism classes. And a few understand that news in the 21st century isn’t about the format but the enterprise. They know the fundamentals of journalism — accuracy, ethics, credibility, reliability, good story-telling, and so on — don’t change when you move to a different media venue.

One of the questions that many of the students asked is what I look for in a newsroom staff member. I’m sure they thought the answer would have to do with Flash skills, blogging abilities or experience with page-design software. But even more important are those fundamentals.

I look first for journalists who are committed to being accurate and fair, who have a solid grasp of the English language and how to use it, and who are curious about the world around them.

Those are fundamentals that help ensure we produce news that serves the community and its readers. They are also fundamentals that should serve aspiring journalists well — even in these tumultuous times.

We don’t always, but I have to say on this we agree.

2 Responses to “Follow-up: Fundamentals will always matter in journalism”

  1. Cassandra Jowett Says:

    I attend one of those universities which is desperately trying to catch up to the technology curve.

    But when I enrolled in 2005, I was three years too early: the curriculum changed recently to allow journalists with an interest in traditionally separated fields (print, magazine, broadcast and online) to take a mixture of courses throughout their degree to get a more well-rounded education.

    I chose print and I love it, but I regret not being able to take a senior-level online or broadcasting course. I’ve had to develop those skills in my free time. It’s been challenging and rewarding, but very difficult and time-consuming.

    It’s refreshing to hear that recruiters who hire young journalists are still looking for those non-tangible skills we all got into journalism for in the first place.

  2. Niall Says:

    Very good blog. My university is just coming round to the idea of the way the media is changing but overall there is still a focus on ‘traditional’ news values. It’s refreshing to know that even in the new digital age editors are still looking for good honest journalists.