Journalism students: The internet is just a place

Have you read Jeff Jarvis’ Buzzmachine blog? Well you should!

In a blogpost earlier this week Jeff made the point that:

We in media have a bad habit of viewing the world in our image. We think the internet is a medium. I say instead it’s a place.

This really struck a chord with me and highlighted one of the frustrations I have with journalism school.  We’re taught the internet is a medium in a separate way to radio and TV.  Yes, the point about multi-media is made and that we can incorporate visual and audio content, but we’re taught the idea of a web article in an old media way.

Maybe it’s a deliberate move to make students more comfortable with the web.  But I think from the very outset it should be instilled that the internet is just a place.

One of the frustrations of people new to blogging is “Is anyone actually reading this? What’s the point?”.  Their expectation being that if content is simply put out there then it will attract a readership. A good comparison is to producing a pamphlet and only distributing it in one corner of one very small shop.  You need to get content out there!

Far more important than being taught “web writing style” is web promotion.  RSS and syndication, twitter and social media, comments, trackbacks, links. All this should be taught alongside the actual practice of journalism. Web writing style is easy to adapt to if you’re comfortable with print journalism. But getting a readership and awareness for your work can have a massive effect on your employability post-graduation.

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12 thoughts on “Journalism students: The internet is just a place

  1. Spot on. I agree that the idea of promotion is actually a lot more hazy for people to get their head around.I think more should be done to stress the point of a blog. Instead of a collection of sporadic, unrelated rantings, more should be done to emphasise the idea of structure and specialisation.

  2. knowing the difference between “there” and “their” will help you go a long way in journalism, too. 🙂 sorry.

  3. Kid you are right on, thanks for the words, and for the hope that we can claim the first step of entrepreneurial journalism as a willingness to get your work out there.

  4. Thanks Elizabeth. The relationship between journalist, blogger and entrepreneur/personal marketer is something I intend to explore further.As much as I hate the phrase “personal brand”, it’s now essential for any ambitious new journalist in the new media world. Those that don’t get it will be left in the shrinking old media pond.

  5. So right. I’ve learnt about writing for the web and basic (though nowhere near good enough) dreamweaver skills. In reality I read enough online to understand how to write for it, and why would I create a website from scratch when I can make a blog, use twitter etc?The little social media know how I have, I had to learn myself. This says a lot about where I studied journalism. I don’t believe any of the tutors had a real understanding of its potential.Looking for jobs at the moment, I’ve found that a better knowledge of social media would help for positions which are more than solely ‘journalist’.

  6. Lynsey your second paragraph highlights the biggest oversight of many journalism schools at the moment. I really don’t think the case for using social media can be stated enough to journalism students. I don’t think seminars on how to use and maximise tools like twitter are a bad idea.I’m actually looking at holding a social media seminar for fellow students at my university.

  7. Daniel – the only comment I would make about your ‘personal brand’ comment above is that old media still represents the quickest way to build this.e.g. I have a friend who works for one of the major UK dailies. Articles regularly get 10m+ page views. Without the traditional brand of the newspaper this would have been unlikely (if not impossible < 1yr)The problem is that the future is both closer and further than we think.

  8. Of course having exposure in a national daily sends your personal brand sky high. The traffic those news organisations generate is massive. I’m speaking to students or those who aren’t in the employment of a major news organisation and are trying to get their work noticed. However good it may be it’s nothing without promotion.

  9. Though I would add Henry. That there is actually a Press Association journalist called Daniel Bentley who is not me, and my web presence and search engine ranking is better than his.

  10. […] 16, 2010 by lynseybarber Following Jeff Jarvis on twitter, he recently linked to this blog post by a fellow student journalist Daniel Bentley. He writes about how journalism schools focus on […]

  11. microblogging is really useful when you want to broadcast short updates. i am still leaning towards traditional blogging.`-‘

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