Any and all media

I think this is a big deal: LA Times editor Russ Stanton said the paper will “train all editorial employees in new skills in every medium in which we work (print/web/TV/mobile/radio).” I hope that also means training everyone in new opportunities: collaboration, networks, opening up the process… (By the way, I was honored to be included in Stanton’s reading list.)

  • SteveSgt

    That certainly is a tremendous amount of education he’s promising his staff. I wonder what valuable skills are going to fall out of the curriculum to give them mediocre skills in media production?

    Jeff, you’re continually pushing the idea that if someone can write, then they can be an engaging narrator, creative audio producer, recording engineer, sound effects creator, sound and/or video editor, lighting designer, scenery designer, makeup artist, costumer, charismatic on-screen personality, and so on. You might as well say that anybody who’s been through grade-school can be a Writer.

    Take radio, for example. Sure, anybody can leave a voicemail with a service that will post it to the Internet. But it’s a major career track in and of itself to learn the arts of sound design, location sound gathering (with future layered mixing in-mind), microphone use and placement, that fine-toothed interview editing that gives NPR or BBC interviews that easy-to-listen-to “always professional” sound, and mixing that accounts for the wide range of listening environments. (We’re already assuming good writing here, which is very different for the ear than for the eye.)

    Good video, of course, requires all of those skills (because most video is accompanied by audio), and then all of the videography and visual presentation skills. People have spent entire careers perfecting any one of the skills I listed in the second paragraph, above.

    I’m not suggesting that it’s not useful to be a generalist. Nor that a few people won’t rise to tell excellent stories by applying a wide range of media production skills. But you need to ask the question, what skills are being lost or diluted by piling on the requirement that they take on, in effect, training for a dozen other careers?

  • A Former Student of Jeff’s

    Steve — With respect, you’re falling into the same line of thinking that’s currently dooming news organizations across the country. Do you disagree that people who crave news demand it in all media, all at once? Journalism may be a public service, but the companies that pay for it are in the business of making a profit and must respond to the market’s demands. The market — the news-hungry audience — demands online video, podcasts and interactivity as well as the highest-quality writing. News organizations have two options: Give it to them (and have a fighting chance of survival) or withhold it (and likely perish). If you can mount a cogent counterargument here, I would love to hear it.

    The Washington Post and the New York Times may win awards for their videos, but few if any of the most popular online video or podcasts are produced to NPR or 60 Minutes standards. That they’re different animals altogether isn’t incidental to their success — it’s fundamental. You can accuse me of populism here, but as long as newspapers, web sites and television networks need to sell something to survive, providing people with news in a form that’s popular is going to be a winning strategy.

    The present and future of online multimedia news presentation is in higher-IQ, higher-innovation, lower-production-value fare. You don’t need to be a BBC producer to make this stuff, you just need to be smart.

    That’s where this is leading. News organizations can either get with the program or keep wondering why no one is watching their Emmy-winning videos.

  • SteveSgt

    So Former Student, are you saying there’s no future for high quality video content like PBS’s Nova, Frontline, Nature, and the like, nor smart, painstakingly-produced audio content like Living on Earth, National Geographic Expeditions, SoundPrint, RadioLab, and many more.

    Populism can be profitable, but it’s not always good for society. It’s just like catering to the masses with fast food, which has been good for business, but disastrous for the overall health and fitness of our population. It’s no more popular to sell people on eating their veggies than it is to sell them on reading a history book, but both are good for society as a whole.

    In short, the higher-IQ (as you call it) work is already being done, and with some of the highest production values around. You just have to look past your fast-food commercial outlets to find it.

    If your vision of the future of media is poorly-lit, poorly composed, unedited camera-phone videos and rambling voicemails published as podcasts, then you deserve what you get, I suppose. I like stuff that looks and sounds good, as well as appealing to intellect.

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  • http://www.caterernyc.com/ Catering New York

    This was a really great article and i really liked reading it . Its really interesting and i hope there is more to come. keep up the good writing.

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    That certainly is a tremendous amount of education he’s promising his staff. I wonder what valuable skills are going to fall out of the curriculum to give them mediocre skills in media production?

    Jeff, you’re continually pushing the idea that if someone can write, then they can be an engaging narrator, creative audio producer, recording engineer, sound effects creator, sound and/or video editor, lighting designer, scenery designer, makeup artist, costumer, charismatic on-screen personality, and so on. You might as well say that anybody who’s been through grade-school can be a Writer.

    Take radio, for example. Sure, anybody can leave a voicemail with a service that will post it to the Internet. But it’s a major career track in and of itself to learn the arts of sound design, location sound gathering (with future layered mixing in-mind), microphone use and placement, that fine-toothed interview editing that gives NPR or BBC interviews that easy-to-listen-to “always professional” sound, and mixing that accounts for the wide range of listening environments. (We’re already assuming good writing here, which is very different for the ear than for the eye.)

    Good video, of course, requires all of those skills (because most video is accompanied by audio), and then all of the videography and visual presentation skills. People have spent entire careers perfecting any one of the skills I listed in the second paragraph, above.

    I’m not suggesting that it’s not useful to be a generalist. Nor that a few people won’t rise to tell excellent stories by applying a wide range of media production skills. But you need to ask the question, what skills are being lost or diluted by piling on the requirement that they take on, in effect, training for a dozen other careers?