In Newsrooms It’s – Hey Computer Guy

If you’ve followed our companion blog “Journalism”  then you’re acquainted with the idea floating in academia of coders as journalists.  Software writers were always in newsrooms I worked  albeit clandestine because of uneasiness in relations with journalists.

“Hey computer guy” is the call I remember from many of my uninformed colleagues even though I am a nationally award winning journalist.  The report in TechCrunch about journalism schools trying to save the news industry by offering free scholarships to software developers IMHO is about time.

Now comes debate and I pray genuine new thinking as academics and news people determine how to blend the practice of news gathering with digital forms of presentation. Some of the comments on the TechCrunch blog were Internet style biting and professionally useless while others ask why editors and journalists should ignore opportunities to learn to write software.

There are already many schemes for teaming journalist and programmer or turning journalist into coder and vice versa going around among j-school professors with whom I’ve spoken in past months.  Northwestern University’s Medill School has a call for software writers on their web site.

Forbes.com reports despite the doom saying in the news business journalism school enrollment is doing well.  The contradiction cited by TechCrunch in stats from the Pew Center for Research indicates thousands of journalists lost jobs last year.

Perhaps Tim Berners-Lee’s lengthy presentation at TED.com brings back the beginnings of the World Wide Web and thinking behind it all.  Information technology and data sharing are long in the tooth in newsrooms.  There is a wall between IT and the newsroom.  Maybe fences will be removed and colleagues from the two departments will get to know each other better and what each brings to the presentation of news.

If reporter/photographer relationships are an example of what to expect when adding a programmer to the mix it’s going to be interesting and varied.  It will be rewarding if each respects what the other offers.

Broadcast Newsroom Computing on Wednesday reports the RTNDA takes up Community Journalism.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC

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