New Tools Old Practices

In newsroom management, years ago, I stepped up to the task of teaching the entire news staff how to use personal computers; newly introduced as their desktop workstations. One of the memories of the period was brought to my attention over ten years later when an anchor commented among his cherished possessions was the certificate I awarded him for completing a course in newsroom computing.

He was the journalist who stood up in class in anger and exclaimed “I’m 50-years old, why do I have to learn this now?” I asked him to relax and take break and return when he was prepared to resume. He did and he learned. He made me proud these years since because he confirmed my strategy to educate the staff and reward them for growing.

Using new tools is a matter of survival for journalists. I notice radio reporters learn to edit video, television news people edit and print journalists use audio for more than notes. Broadcast Newsroom Computing writes often about the blurring of skills among old divisions of discipline in news production. It is a subject of continuing growth.

The changes are evidenced in the verbose techcrunch report on Adam Penenberg’s new journalism. The New York University professor returned to daily reporting briefly to break a story traditional media overlooked. Fourteen paragraphs deep into the techcrunch post blogger Paul Carr tells how Penenberg used Twitter to bring to public attention a story other media, new and traditional, missed. The professor forced everyone into “scoop recovery” mode.

Carr writes Penenberg may have developed a breaking news procedure for new journalism in the style he tweeted about Ford Motor Company’s $131- (m) million dollar settlement with the family of Brian Cole. Cole was a New York Mets’ prospect killed in the rollover accident of his Ford Explorer.

Penenberg used old wire service procedure for breaking news. He released short blurbs of information; each adding another layer to the story. The educator’s method was the same way wire services released confirmed information until a write thru of facts could be delivered. The practice allowed broadcasters, in particular, to get word out immediately and build suspense in anticipation of a full report.

The urgent bell rings on wire machines are long gone, replaced by beeps and now, beyond wire services, audible Twitter alerts on workstations to announce breaking news from alert journalists.


James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC


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