Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Going digital is trending: Rustle your local newspaper while you still can

   And so it begins - out with the legacy and in with the newfangled. It’s a slippery slope I never thought I’d be sliding down in my lifetime, but here we go.
   Beginning Feb. 25, the Toledo Blade newspaper ownership will cut its print edition down to five days, meaning readers who love the rustling sound a newspaper makes at the turn of a page will be reading in silence two days a week (those days are yet to be announced) Monday and Tuesday.  
   This move forces readers to go digital, and it will be quite a shock to those who grew up with printed newspapers.
   I worry that subscribers who don’t have a computer or wifi access will miss out on important local news of the day. I worry readers will get angry and quit reading it altogether. I fret that going digital will eventually lead to newsroom staff cuts.
The eBlade. Looks the same as the printed edition, but you can also view videos.
   And I’m sad that future generations of readers will eventually, over time, never know what it’s like to hear those rustling pages and smell that distinct odor of a daily newspaper.
   During the first day of my Wayne State and Owens Community College photojournalism classes last week, I took an unofficial poll on the subject. I asked how many of them actually read a printed newspaper, or even bought one. As you can guess, maybe 2 percent said they did.
   For that very reason, the first assignment for both classes was to buy a newspaper (either the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press or Toledo Blade) and identify the elements (flag, byline, refer). When the WSU students turned in their newspapers Thursday for grading (it's a part of the history lesson, believe it or not), a few told me they felt weird buying a newspaper. One student even said the clerk who sold her the paper looked at her funny. I guess it was an odd occurrence for a young person to actually buy a newspaper. 
   The reading habits of our youth, truth be told, gives us a glimpse into the destiny of newspapers. They are growing up in a digital world, and prefer the tiny screens of their phones, and having content in their pockets, accessible anytime, anywhere.
   It was just a matter of time, I suppose. Sigh. 
   I remember being totally dismayed when the Ann Arbor News, owned by Advanced Publications Inc., boldly cut its print edition down to just two days a week on July 23, 2009, ending a print run after 174 years.
   The Owens Outlook student newspaper went completely digital half a decade ago. As the faculty adviser to the Outlook, I was forced to embrace that move, because it was much cheaper for the college, and, let's face it, the bottom line is what’s driving this national trend.
   Full disclosure here: I actually read both digital forms of The Blade (eBlade and NewsSlide) six days a week, and not the hard copy. A few years ago, during a particularly frigid winter, I ignored my printed newspaper in the mornings, opting to read the eBlade on my 27" MAC instead. So, after some deliberation, I decided to help save the forest and cancel my hard print edition, except for Sundays. I still get the Sunday newspaper, and I look forward to those mornings when I walk down the driveway, pluck my paper stuffed with ads out of the paper box, sit at the dining room table and drink a cup of coffee as I rustle those pages.
Three ways to read the Blade:
The eBlade is an electronic PDF form of the newspaper that's, and it’s cheaper than the hard copy and free to those who subscribe to the printed newspaper. It hits the digital stands about midnight.
NewsSlide is a free mobile and iPad app that's exclusive to The Blade and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Though the app has some of the same stories that's in the printed edition, it also has original content produced just for this platform. NewsSlide is just a little over a year old. Just like the eBlade, it comes out once a day and is not updated.
toledoblade.com is the website, and it's constantly being updated with stories that run on the eBlade, NewsSlide and breaking news. There is a paywall for digital access. You're permitted so many free glances, but after that, it locks down.
   I begrudgingly encourage our dear readers to begin accepting digital newspapers, because corporate ownerships give us no choice. Unfortunately, it is our present and our future. I simply can't imagine a nation without printed pages of newspapers. At least now we have an option. 
   Consider this, though - yes, the way newspapers are disseminated is changing, but not its content. 
Local newspapers are more important than ever, and our free, democratic society will always and forever need journalists to educate and entertain the masses, shine the light on corruption, and report on our heroes.
   That said, I urge you to never give up on newspapers, no matter the platform, because our democracy depends on them.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

21st Century newsrooms seek 'talented' multimedia reporters that do it all

   The skills required in the following job posting is what we all strive to possess, isn't it? To be everything we are expected to be in the eclectic world of journalism.
   Consider the following job description for this Tennessee newspaper, posted in 2015:
   The Chattanooga Times Free Press is seeking a talented multimedia reporter to fill a digital storytelling position. A good candidate must be able to incorporate video, audio, coding and writing to create high-quality experiences for sophisticated online audiences.
   Say what now? Coding for a sophisticated audience? My first thought was wondering how coding fits into a journalist's toolbox. Isn't it enough to write the stories, take the photos, produce the videos, and share it on social media? We also have to post it on the website, and design the layout, too? Then what would our website people be responsible for, if not collecting our stuff and disseminating it to the masses?
   My second thought: Does this mean we have to be sophisticated ourselves?
   The job listing continues:
A successful multimedia reporter must wear many hats and have a high comfort level with social media, still photography, video, website creation, databases and interactive design, and be willing to learn new skills on an ongoing basis as technology changes.These skills will be put to use during major news events, when multimedia reporters will be expected to offer our audience a different perspective on current events, as well as in enterprise and projects work, where a multimedia reporter will be expected to tell original stories in new ways.
This full-time position includes health insurance, access to training opportunities, and the opportunity to work with an award winning digital team in beautiful Chattanooga, Tennessee, which was recently named as Outside Magazine's "Best Town Ever."
   When I first read that posting, I remember feeling profoundly inadequate and under-qualified as a legacy photojournalist and educator teaching the next generation of visual journalists. After all, consider the 16 job duties this newspaper added to the list of qualifications:
  • Help develop multimedia ideas for long-form projects
    Chattanooga Times Free Press website.
  • Develop short-form documentary video for projects
  • Strategize and execute multimedia and social media work for major events
  • Develop and contribute to reporting for daily or breaking turns
  • Help maintain social media accounts and develop novel ways to grow them
  • Provide video for stories
  • Pitch and write occasional feature stories
  • Work on weekends as needed
  • Build interactive elements, like searchable databases, maps, and other graphics for daily stories and projects
  • Build custom websites for special projects, both independently and incorporating designs from design desk
  • Stay current with newest front-end web development languages and techniques
  • Provide input on decisions
  • Offer new, innovative ideas and suggest improvements
  • Show a willingness to learn, especially as it relates to coding and emerging digital storytelling tools.
  • Contribute to continuing education for other reporters
   Hey, podcast creation and production is missing off this list! They clearly haven't thought of everything!
   I was so struck by that mega skill list that I used it as my lede in a 2016 story I wrote for the National Press Photographer Association's magazine, News Photographer. The story focused on job hunting for recent college grads, and I wanted to prove (via that job posting) that newspapers are certainly seeking applicants that can do way more work ...  for less pay (in many cases).
   So, dear students (and veterans, too), take every journalism, photography, multimedia, video, coding, graphics and management class that you can, and take them seriously. 
   Are our 21st Century journalism majors aptly prepared for our current newsrooms? They will be if they go into the profession knowing they have a lot to know ... and learn.

Here are two very recent job postings: one for a seasoned professional, and the other for an intern. So, now you know what to strive for if you are seeking employment ... 
National Geographic is looking for an experienced digital producer to develop, storyboard, and execute editorial stories for vertical storytelling distribution outlets like Instagram Stories, IGTV, and Snapchat. We are looking for a producer who excels at working across mediums, with a strong discerning eye for photography, video, design, and text. They will collaborate with editors, producers, and photographers across NG Media.
Job Breakdown:
- Adapt photography, video, and text into stunning and engaging editorially-based tap stories.
- Write, design, photo edit, video edit stories into cohesive tap stories.
- Work closely with the video team, editors, and Nat Geo photographers, to develop and execute editorial stories.
- Meet and engage stakeholders in the process from story development to final QC.
- Develop forward-thinking approaches to vertical storytelling and test new platform-specific visual experiences.
- Help the Instagram Director review and provide feedback on vertical content delivered across Nat Geo.
- Strong editing skills in Adobe Premiere and motions graphics in After Effects.
- Has a strong editorial background and is comfortable working in a collaborative team environment.
- An in-depth understanding of vertical platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.
- A strong eye for both photos and video as well as an ability to identify and apply emerging visual trends.
- Ability to write, edit, and refine text.
- Ability to multi-task and ensure deadlines are met

USA TODAY is in search of a talented college student for our Summer 2019 Photojournalist/Video Journalist Internship in McLean, Va. Join a global digital media company of more than 100 media properties across the country.
As a Summer 2019 Intern Program participant, you will develop and apply your experience and skills in a fast-paced, real-time newsroom environment. The purpose of the internship experience is to provide opportunities where undergraduate and graduate students can develop, grow and become the next generation of talent for the USA TODAY Network.
-Work with editors, producers and photographers to help cover news and feature assignments across all sections of USA TODAY.
-Shoot and produce assignments in the field.
-Script, produce and edit original video using the Adobe Creative Suite.
-Edit photo assignments for print and online packages using Adobe Photoshop and PhotoMechanic.
-Find and pitch unique story ideas.
-Participate in news meetings and learn how priorities for News content and coverage are set and executed.
-Degree-seeking student currently enrolled at a college or university.
-Preferred majors: Journalism, photojournalism, communications or a related field.
-Well organized, detail oriented, adaptable and flexible.
-Excellent communication skills.
-The ideal candidate will be interested in all forms of visual journalism ­– from video and photography to motion graphics.
We are eager to learn more about you and how you fit this role. When you apply, don’t limit your upload to a resume; show us what you’ve done.
To do so, put together a single document file that includes the following, in this order:
1. Resume – one to two pages.
2. A cover letter that outlines how you would approach the job. – Tell us what makes your work stand out.
3. Online links to your portfolio.
It is important that these items be assembled in a single document and uploaded in PDF format. Completing these steps will ensure that your application receives the highest consideration.