With more newspaper and magazine titles utilising apps, whether on tablets or mobile phones, to enhance their brands, we must accept that apps are going to be around for a while. But while they’re at the cutting edge of technology now, allowing us to access multimedia content and interact with the reader community (as you can see below), there’s always going to be new technology that renders the previous fad old-fashioned. There was a time that we thought those giant Zack Morris cellular phones were the future- now we can access breaking news on a screen that fits neatly in your pocket. So, there are two big questions I have- what is coming next, and as journalists, will be even be prepared for it?
Currently, the journalism curriculum in colleges and universities trains students in writing, the legal practicalities of the industry, and production. Even this is drastically different from previous courses- journalists a few decades ago would never have dreamed of having to be able to put together the magazine they were writing for. But we are not being trained in computer science, or how to create apps, or in any of the burgeoning technologies shaping our industry. If we believe that journalists have to be proficient in all the technologies that they will be expected to utilise, then we are leaving university with a degree that has not fully prepared us for our career. Richard Keeble, in his 2006 book The Newspapers Handbook, discussed this concern, saying that “scepticism about the value of theoretical studies for aspiring reporters remain widespread”.
I got into journalism because I adore writing. It was the career that would allow me to be paid for doing what I loved. However, I’m just not technologically minded, and even struggle with Macs. Even though being a journalist is still my dream, I’m not sure that the industry I imagined myself in still exists. I believe I could be a successful magazine writer. But a journalist, which in today’s sense of the word means a writer, website designer, graphic designer, analyst, and all-round techie? I’m not so sure.
Robert Niles called the print journalism world the “fastest dying industry in America“, and if we consider how technology has spread throughout the newsroom, he has a valid point. Will the role of a journalist soon be replaced by a robot-like tech head- or indeed, an actual robot? Only time will tell. However, with the general consensus being that print is dying out (e.g. this article from Brian Solis puts forward this idea), the role of journalist will not be the role we were trained to undertake.