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Saturday, 21 August 2010


The newsroom has changed, so why shouldn't the classroom? The profession has advanced, so why should the training not keep up? Pertinent questions about the state of journalism, well answered by Robert Niles.

In a 5-point highly illuminating article, published by the American Online Journalism Review, Niles succinctly bridges the knowledge gap for enrolled journalism students, by linking current industry demands with the professional training being pursued.

No doubt the strong background in web-based journalism of Robert Niles means he places a lot of emphasis on the Internet or online publishing platforms. He thus easily presupposes that all media students must have posted something on the web, which he equates to kick-starting a journalism career:

"Immediate access to a global publishing medium allows any source to become a breaking news reporter, if only for just a moment" 

Quite a sweeping statement to make, in my opinion. I still hold the view that journalism has to be hinged on a set of news values, with stories done with a bit of interpretation, preferably with a multiplicity of sources or voices, with lots of effort to counter-check the veracity and also achieve some level of balance.

But Niles is absolutely spot on, when he challenges journalism students to  consider cultivating an appropriate online presence. I agree with him that potential employers could be keener on somebody who can demonstrate a significant number of unique visitors to their blog, as an example.

But when he says:

"Don't undercut your hard work with moments of Facebook foolishness."

It does look like a hard act to follow for any journalism student. Niles is advocating for a 24/7 awareness of the need to constantly maintain a scribe's demeanour.

I personally like to carefully elect to reflect a different persona, depending on who I am interacting with and also think one is capable of keeping one's private life intact, the attendant difficulties notwithstanding.

Unlike Niles, I feel one needs an alter ego to help keep the 'insanity' that comes with being a journalist, at bay.

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