Last week, Mark S. Luckie published a great post on 30 things that recent journalism grads should do this summer. The post included everything from starting a blog to creating a basic slideshow in flash. Though this is a great round-up of things that will improve your standing as a job candidate, I want to emphasize a key skill or ingrained mindset each journalist should have today: innovation.
In my observations, it seems that for the last few years journalists have often been playing catch-up to technologies that have ultimately helped or improved journalists work in reporting and publishing their work. Most of these have been Web technologies (using social media tools like Twitter), but advances in equipment (audio players, flip cams, etc.) have also contributed.
Though journalists often feel like they are being spread too thin by having to learn these new tools, they are ultimately making our jobs easier. Think about how much easier it is to shoot and upload video to a website by simply using your mobile phone, or how easy it is to report breaking news from an event through tweets.
The point is that now is the time to embrace these technologies that ultimately are helping us tell and report stories. Embrace it or wither away with the newspaper bankruptcies, lost jobs and the rest of the mess that is much of the changing news industry today. But embracing it and catching up to it isn’t enough – innovating these technologies is. We should be the ones that are creating tools that will help our own craft.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t use other tools because after all we are not experts in everything. However, the more innovative we are, the quicker we solve the many problems the industry is facing – or at least some of them. There have been some great advances and ideas out there from journos (just look at this year’s Knight Foundation News Challenge winners). We just need more of it, a lot more of it. So, what is your innovative idea for the summer? Is it a new website? A new web tool? A piece of equipment that you hope to create?