They say journalism is "history in a hurry." The profession is all about reporting stories accurately, fairly, and completely—but also very quickly.
A decade ago, printing "history in a hurry" meant a whole day of legwork—scurrying around from office to office gathering documents and talking to sources to create a comprehensive news story. When Pinatubo exploded in the 1990s, newsrooms sent out reporters, who talked to sources and wrote stories, which they sent back to their desks for broadcast or publishing.
We're finding that today's journalists don't even have the luxury of one workday. In the era of online news, journalism isn't just journalism anymore—it's journalism in a hurry. In 2009, when Ondoy hit Manila, reporters were tweeting what their sources were telling them and uploading photos taken from their phones on Facebook.
Paul Bradshaw's diagram on how digitization has changed the news production cycle is very interesting. In a matter of years, the three stages in the news production process, once distinct, now occur simultaneously. They've become layers, and not stages, of the cycle.
Bradshaw adds that because so many newsrooms have switched to this model, the new process has become formalized. Post-Web news organizations now have the same important editorial process and responsibilities as pre-Web ones, which is very important for the integrity of the profession.
The ground is shaking underneath the feet of the world's journalism educators. J schools should catch up with this in the next year or two if they don't want to lag behind in the long run. We should definitely keep teaching students the long-held tenets of journalism.
But we should start teaching them how to perform their job in a fast-moving world. I don't think that's being done enough right now. It's harder than you might think to be fair, balanced, accurate and ethical in a world of Twitter, Facebook and an audience whose appetite for news seems insatiable. I think that requires a wider skill set than the ones we're currently teaching.
There isn't much difference between what journalism schools teach and what the industry expects. There is, however, an inadequacy—the methods taught in school are for an era bygone. They've outlived the context in which they were taught. What we need to start working on is how we can teach the same quality journalism in an entirely different paradigm. And we better hurry. The Web won't wait.