A journalistic ideal that won’t change

The Poynter Institute’s “Standing Up for Journalism” workshop has been engrossing (and busy!), so much that this week has been one for light posting. We’ve been heavily into video shooting and editing, and will have a final project tomorrow that I’m eventually going to try to post here.

Today we heard from former Philadelphia Inquirer managing editor Butch Ward on “Surviving Change.” Echoing many of the familiar tactics of job-seeking networking (my career coach despises the term) that we have been hearing and learning to adopt, Ward also stressed the practice of lifelong learning, or “boundary spanning. Don’t be defined by your own boundaries.” This is going to be our reality for for the rest of our careers:

“What does surviving mean now? It doesn’t mean you’ll keep your next job. [It does mean] having options in a situation and knowing how to respond.”

After Ward regaled us with “glue pot” stories from his days at the late Baltimore News-American — the memories endure, because they gave those newsroom folks a proud identity — he underscored that the core objectives of the profession remain the same, even if the tools and business models are in flux:

“Why do we do this work? What you do is important but it’s so much more powerful if you know why you do it.”

A similar message was sent to University of Tennessee journalism students who, unlike my Poynter classmates and me, have grown up in the digital age:

“Whatever technology knowledge or skills we need today are only the enablers to do journalism.

“It’s still about knowing a story, getting the story quickly and accurately, and playing it correctly that ultimately matter.

“No matter the tools or the medium, it’s knowing what is a story and the telling of it that turns information into journalism.”


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