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Online Journalism

reflections on a changing medium

The fact that today’s journalists are expected to have new-and-improved skill sets including things like shooting and editing photos and video and capturing and editing audio, might sound a little overwhelming to an aspiring journalist.  This might be especially true of those who are better acquainted with the archetypal “print-journalist” whose role is simpler and more definitive than what James Foust refers to as a “modern backpack journalist.” On the surface, it really sounds like a handful. Equipment? As a young kid, when I first realized that journalism had nothing to do with marble composition notebooks and everything to do with all things new and exciting, I was happy as a clam with my Hello Kitty notebook and my favorite purple pen. Now I feel like regardless of what I’m equipped with, I’m always slipping behind and media technology marches onward. What gives? I certainly didn’t sign up to be a techie but I’m certainly becoming one. Throughout college thus far, I have amassed a great deal of technological gadgets. For example, the laptop that I’m typing this with was one of my first purchases as a college student. I have also purchased a Nikon digital SLR camera in order to learn to take photographs to go along with my writing, a tripod, a handheld audio recorder to use during interviews, an iPhone, several pairs of Sony headphones for audio-editing and transcription and most recently, my Kodak zi8. It’s also important to note the time that it takes to learn to use all of these devices and the software that goes along with them. (I’m recently signed up for WordPress,  Vimeo, YouTube and Twitter and have learned Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, Audacity, etc.)

But don’t get me wrong. This never-ending flow of new equipment isn’t all, or even mostly, bad. It’s quite the advantage, actually. With all of these things at my disposal—whether they’re the latest models or not—I am able to reap the benefits of living in a highly connected world. It’s becoming easier to describe, document and share newsworthy materials. There is something truly empowering about getting a story for which I have recorded and transcribed interviews, written, taken photographs and videos of the subjects and personally choosing how to present it to my audience. Without depending on others to come up with an aggregate of these media materials, I worry less about a disconnect or depersonalization of the story


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