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Wednesday, 14 June 2017 08:33

BERTIE'S BLOG - Confessions of a Wannabe Journalist

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In the introduction to THE ONLINE JOURNALISM HANDBOOK, Paul Bradshaw writes:

“We’re all online journalists now.  Whether we work for a newspaper, a broadcaster or an online outlet, our stories, pictures, audio and video appear online and what started out in print becomes archived on the web – from ink to hyperlink.

Some fear that ‘traditional’ skills of news gathering and news writing will disappear and that technology will become more important than the stories.”

He goes on to state emphatically, “traditional skills remain central to the journalist’s craft. The ability to spot a story, to gather and convey information effectively, and the talent to communicate a story accurately are, in an information-overload world, essential.”

The Table of Contents lists 11 chapters that appear to provide in depth coverage from the history of newspapers and the web, to blogging, podcasts, video, interactivity, UGC, and laws in regard to online communication. Filled with edifying insights no doubt, conveying crucial knowledge to help navigate the heightened velocity of a technological world I’m sure. And somehow, over the days and weeks and months ahead, hopefully, I’ll ingest each pithy kernel, if not by reading the handy handbook, perhaps through hands-on experience when I’m fortunate enough to be hot footing to the site of my first real story. But wait; before I’m ready to jump into chapter one, I’m stuck on the introduction.

“Some fear that … technology will become more important than the stories.” Hasn’t truth already give way to lies? We believe what we read. If we see it online - BuzzFeed, youtube, facebook, tribune online – that’s the news, that’s what’s happening! So in the modern world of reporting, which comes first, the truth, the facts behind the story, or the headline that people want to read that sells the paper or gets you the most hits?

I want to go back to the very beginning. I’m a journalism student, studying Communications at UCLA. I’m a wannabe journalist. And I guess I’m hoping to learn the ‘traditional skills’ Paul Bradshaw says are essential to the craft. News gathering relies on checking facts. There’s a process involved, a technique to be learned. But how do you learn the ability to spot a story? Is that an inherent talent – you either have it or you don’t? And does spotting a story have to do with real news, or is it having a knack for sensing the public zeitgeist and create the story? Or does that make reporters the equivalent to ambulance chasers?

Which leads me to ask myself why I want to be a journalist. I’m young, and I like a new adventure. It seems like it would be an exciting career, with constant new challenges to meet, and bigger mountains to climb. I like the idea of writing, but not really siting down and writing for hours on end. But then, doesn’t the ‘tradition’ reporter spend his or her day chasing leads in the field and then dashed back to the newsroom with only minutes to bang out a story in time to meet the deadline?

I must admit, my ultimate goal is to be an accomplished television new reporter. Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, these are women who inspire me. I like the idea of presenting. I like the idea of being known. I like the idea of being at the top of my field. But I wonder what it really is that makes me yearn to be a journalist. I’m hoping to find out more about me, as I explore in my blog what makes a good journalist.