Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Want a job when you graduate? Then don't shun the multimedia skills

Recently, a discussion took place on the College Media Association listserv regarding the value of multimedia journalism skills, spawned by some advisers complaining that their students refused to learn them and preferred to stay in their "silos" or print or broadcast. This post, I thought, encapsulated the beliefs of many of the hiring managers with whom I communicate for my Twitter feed. It is reprinted here with permission.

As someone who hires interns and later helps them get jobs, I think students who work in converged newsrooms and have multimedia skills are much more likely to get and keep those jobs. At larger publications, people are still more likely to specialize, especially those who are farther along in their careers. No editor I know expects everyone to be great at every skill. But if you are the first person at the site of a breaking news story and you don’t get the photos and video, can’t write the first online brief and can’t provide updates across platforms, you aren’t going to make it.
Here is the first of a list of key activities listed for a multimedia journalist at one of the Scripps papers: “Write articles, take photographs, and shoot video (or a combination thereof) as necessary to tell a story.” Here’s another one: “Proficiency in use of web publishing tools and ability to learn new technology quickly.”
Here’s part of the description of the work environment: “Moderate physical demands to include carrying a laptop computer and digital camera with equipment bag on assignments.”
This is a job at a newspaper for someone just coming out of school.
A job posting at a TV station in a small market for someone with one to two years of experience calls for broadcasting skills but also the ability to “report, write, capture quality visual content, edit and produce stories for multiple platforms on deadline, such as Internet and digital channels.”
We stress multimedia skills here. I recruit students who have them, but we also teach them to students who need them. Sometimes when my interns return to school, they are stymied in taking courses that would allow them to get better at these skills because they are majoring in print or broadcast and can’t get into courses in the other specialty.
I’m sure it’s hard to change the culture. But if students want to work in journalism, they need to be thinking of how to tell stories across platforms.
Jody Beck
Scripps Howard Foundation Wire
Director, Semester in Washington Program
Scripps Howard Foundation
1100 13th St. NW, #450
Washington, DC 20005

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