College Media / Multimedia views

Editors: Stop letting reporters go without online content!

Twitter's Update PageImage via WikipediaA Twitter conversation with Tim Magaw of the Daily Kent Stater:

timmagaw: Training week for the Daily Kent Stater starts tomorrow. What’s one thing every college journalist should know?

CICM: How to move beyond their print-based paradigm. 🙂

timmagaw: We tell them that all the time. It’s easy to talk the talk. It’s more difficult to get them to actually do it.

CICM: stop running their print stories if they don’t turn in web-friendly stuff – that’ll get them to do it.

timmagaw: Now there’s an idea.

One of the questions I usually get when I do a multimedia workshop is this one: how do we get reporters to go along with this stuff? It’s along the lines of what Tim is asking.

My response is always the same: Who says you have to “get them to go along.” You don’t. You demand it.

A couple of years ago, it might have been okay to let a good print writer slide with just turning in those print stories, or (heaven forbid) a photog just turn in those photos with no audio, no video, no slideshow.

Those days are gone.

My response now: Editors must demand at least links, if not source documents and audio clips. If a reporter doesn’t turn in their story with “web-only” content like hyperlinks (at the minimum!), send it back. Tell that reporter the story is not finished. Period. End of story.

What’s the danger? Perhaps that reporter leaves in a huff and doesn’t come back. If that happens, that reporter is missing in action anyway. If you’re in on the future of journalism, you’d better be getting with the Web.

More importantly, that type of expectation from editors will flow down to the staff because they follow their editors – in good habits and bad. If you start expecting reporters to do the right thing, they will do the right thing, or they won’t appear in print.

If their print byline is still that important to them, they’ll get the web content.

Tradition is a powerful thing – and it can stand in the way of innovation. But tradition gets reinvented every four years at a college newspaper. When I was in college, we used wax, layout pages and photochemical processing to output our copy. After I left, they started using Quark on Macs. The layout pages, wax and photochemical processing were gone.

Nobody batted an eye. Why should they be allowed to do so now?

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