New tools and new rules

The last week of the semester is a great time for an inspirational speech. Rather than give one myself, I’ve found one in text and video for my “basic newswriting” students, whose semester experiences have ranged from AP Stylebook drills to reading about tornado damage in their own backyard.

During our Communication Week, they heard local reporters talk about their lives — from Beth Macy covering a cholera epidemic in Haiti and Ralph Berrier interviewing pioneers of bluegrass music, to  recent grad Justin Ward launching his career into regional TV news.

Maybe they don’t need another inspirational speech. But we’ve heard enough doom-and-gloom about the newspaper business (and I do teach a newspaper style of writing). Perhaps this will help.

Here… Listen to Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president at the Knight Foundation, speaking at the College of Journalism and Mass Communication of the University of Nebraska, whose new dean came from Knight, which is using a newspaper-generated bankroll to fund innovative journalism projects. His real message starts about a dozen paragraphs into the speech…

All you need to do is plug into the stream and you see journalism and mass communication developments coming faster and more forcefully than ever. This is the dawn of a new age in communication, the digital age, and it is even richer with invention than the dawn of the industrial age.

New tools are being invented at a mind-boggling pace. Instead of the telegraph, the telephone and the light bulb, we’re talking about microchips, laptops, smart phones, tablets. We’re talking about companies like Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter: from digital zero to number one in the market, nearly overnight.

As the legendary journalist Hodding Carter III once said, “This is the most exciting time ever to be a journalist – if you are not in search of the past.” The same I would say applies to being any kind of communicator – advertising, public relations, you name it.

That’s what’s exciting. The students of today actually are going to create the journalism and mass communication of tomorrow….

His “New tools create new rules” discussion, alluded to in my headline, comes later. Students should read the whole speech to find out just what he means.

Here’s the full text
and an MP4 video

mild-mannered reporter who fell deeper into computers and the Web during three trips through graduate school in the 1980s and 1990s, then began teaching journalism, media studies and Web production, most recently as a faculty member at Radford University.

Posted in Education, Future of news, Journalism, Newspapers, Online-Only, Technology

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