Ah, new journalists – what do they know?

Despite what it seems like, I haven’t been slacking off. In fact, I’ve been intensely working on a blog … just not this one. This screen shot is pretty self-explanatory:

If you haven’t been following my mini-saga, here’s the short version: my first-year undergrad students want to learn about the most promising young journalists. For the past week, I’ve been collecting nominees and soliciting their advice.

Honestly, it’s been more of a time commitment than I expected, but it’s really been worth it. All the nominees were asked a very general question: “What advice would you give a first-year undergrad who’s thinking of getting into journalism?”

The responses have ranged from general encouragement to specific strategies. Many entries manage to be hopeful despite realistic assessments of the challenges we face.

What has surprised me most, though, is how humble so many of these up-and-comers are. When asked to offer their insight, some began with paragraph-long qualifiers. This would make sense if their journalism looked, sounded, and read like the work of rookies, but it really doesn’t! In fact, I’m more excited than ever about the number of smart and talented people getting into the industry right now. Despite the non-stop parade of gloomy predictions, they’re rolling up their sleeves and saying “let’s do this thing.”

To answer the question for which this post is named: new journalists know a heck of a lot, and anyone interested in the future of news should pay attention to what they’ve learned so far.

The site isn’t really live yet because my students haven’t seen it, and it won’t be “googlable” until they do. For now, here’s a sample entry if you’re wondering what to expect.

As you can see, I start by showcasing the pointers, and then tell you a bit about the author. I’m also including links to their work or embedding multimedia wherever possible. It’s a simple formula, but hopefully a useful starting point.

I’ll definitely follow up when the site is ready to be read. For now, back to marveling at my peers.


The women of the Toronto Star radio room

We’ve introduced ourselves on the Toronto Star intern blog.

According to Roger Gillespie–senior editor, training and development–the post has been attracting lots of traffic from both twitter and facebook.

In a profession that used to be an old boy’s club, this set of fresh faces does indicate that something big is (and has been) changing in journalism. At the face of things, I’m very proud . . . but I do want to make something clear.

All of these amazing female journalists are much more than pretty young faces. We’re coming up through the system, and we’re getting ready to claim more corner offices.

As the following video illustrates, this progress isn’t something to be taken for granted. The narrator mentions news women about 5:00 minutes in, but quickly notes that they basically stick to the women’s pages, writing about household tips and social events: “Women find it difficult to compete with men in general reporting jobs.”

(Although I have no interest in the attractive arrangement of a table, I’d make a stronger case for reporters who work the phones.) Continue reading

Heat, but no light: What to do with incendiary articles?

by Flickr user kate.gardiner

I’ve had this dilemma before.

When someone has a viewpoint very different from my own, I don’t instinctively put up my dukes. For the most part, I want to engage. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt and try to see where they’re coming from.

And it’s not because I want to be on some kind of moral high ground–I’m opinionated and I get pissed off sometimes–but rather, it just doesn’t make much sense for me to waste energy sparring for the sake of sparring.

So here’s an example. In one of my comment threads, I had to make the following statement

“Before I go any further, however, I have to insist that you stop clouding this discussion with

1) Ad hominem attacks, like calling me pathetic.
2) Crude instructions to do things like “check my head”
3) Assumption-based “questions,” like “you don’t care about that, do you?”
4) Arrogant statements like “I’m schooling people on other blogs.”

Anyway, after giving the commenter ample opportunity to engage without the condescension and vitriol, I discontinued the dialogue (if, indeed, that’s what it was).

But that was a personal example, and now I’m embarking on media research that includes points of view that, to me, seem outrageously mean-spirited.

Basically, I’m writing a paper about the meta-conversation on climate change–discussing the discussion, if you will–and if you’ve been following the news on this topic, I’m sure you’ve heard some yelling and name-calling. Continue reading