Cyberjournalism: A Look at the Future of Newspapers and Print
Dr. Sherri Ward Massey
University of Central Oklahoma
3500 Wagonwheel Rd.
Edmond, OK 73034
(405) 348-4462 (home)
(405) 348-7907 (fax)
(405) 341-2980 Ext. 5458 (office)
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Cyberjournalism: A Look at the Future of Newspapers and Print
This Delphi study strives to make predictions and generate
discussion about the future of newspapers and education for print journalists.
The conclusion is that current changes in technology have created a fear that is
necessary and beneficial. The panelistsDjournalists and educatorsDagreed that
future journalists will have to stay abreast of trends in technology, learn how
to work independently and work harder than ever to understand their consumers.
Cyberjournalism: A Look at the Future of Newspapers and Print
Cyberjournalism: A Look at the Future of Newspapers and Print Education
It's too bad that we, as journalism educators, can't look into the
monitors of our personal computers and see what skills we need to teach our
students to prepare them for a future in print journalism. Or can we? We can
observe the trends, many of which are occurring via the device that sits on our
desks. We know that print journalists will need to be able to use computers, but
what else will they need to know? Which is more important, the "basics" or
technical skills? There is little disagreement among educators and professionals
that journalists will always need the basic skills of good writing and analysis.
But the influx of computers and other technology into the industry has changed
the way we define "print journalist." Must a print journalist be a technological
wizard to succeed in this profession? Which skills should be learned in college
coursework and which should be learned on the job? This study seeks to further
the discussion of these issues.
The purpose of this study is to make some predictions, based on
the opinions of a panel of experts, about the future of newspapers and the
skills that will be necessary for future journalists. The panelists in this
study participated in an anonymous discussion about these issues. These
newspaper industry experts evaluated one another's responses, allowing for a
compilation of opinions. This study was designed to garner information about
newspaper technology and to offer - through the consensus of experts - some idea
of how professionals and educators can plan for the future.
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Over the past two decades, newspapers have advanced beyond the first
electronic information services of audiotext. Today, newspapers offer same-day
text, back issues, talk forums, references, advertising, access to the editor
and other services. Still, the vast majority of Americans do not own personal
computers, and fewer still own (or regularly use) modems. It is still a small
but public faction of people who go on-line every day.
But as assistants to newsgatherers, personal computers already are
important to journalists. Courses in on-line reporting are being added to
journalism curricula everywhere. Students are expected to write and research
stories on-line, and they often turn in their homework via a modem.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Knight-Ridder Inc.,
among others, have spent some considerable time and money investing in the idea
that newspapers will one day be paperless. Some of the panelists in this study
suggested that they believe this is the future of print journalism. MIT has, for
about a decade, worked on "The Daily Me," a paper tailored to an individual's
Knight-Ridder established a lab in Boulder, Colo., to explore
electronic publishing alternatives such as a flat-panel, notebook-sized
computer. Such a newspaper would allow users to access information from any
number of newspapers, restaurants, airlines and a variety of other places. The
lab shut down in August 1995, but not before the director, Roger Fidler, in a
wave of publicity, had traveled the country talking about the lab's innovative
ideas for newspapers. Knight-Ridder, like most publishing companies, is now
concentrating on developing on-line newspapers. Fidler, the MIT researchers and
others who have researched the paperless newspaper are visionariesDnot all of
their ideas have worked, but all contribute to the development of future
Old fashioned skills
The publisher of the Miami Herald, David Lawrence Jr., agrees that
newspapers will be widely available electronically but says "print will never be
pass " (p. 13). He suggested (pp. 15-17) that journalists trying to meet the
challenges of the technological advances should concentrate on:
y offering good commentary
y being relevant to the readers' needs
y reflecting the communities with diversity in staff and content
y listening to readers
y offering better customer service
y guarding individuality (of the newspaper)
y retaining credibility
Robert H. Giles, editor of the Detroit News, emphasized the
importance of the skills of the journalists in meeting the needs of customers.
The workforce, he said, would have to be diversified, have continuous training
and education and a strengthening of core journalistic values.
"Editors seeking to add staff will be expected to meet a different
test: how will the new staffers assist the newspaper to reach the new markets of
readers and advertisers it is trying to attract or how will the staffers enable
the newsroom to absorb more responsibility for production of the paper through
the computer-driven processes of pagination?" (pp. 33-34)
William Ketter, president of the American Society of Newspaper
Editors and editor of the Quincy (Mass.) Patriot Ledger, told Editor & Publisher
that newspapers' fascination with electronic news would intensify and suggested
that journalists will need to be multimedia reporters who work for a variety of
Newspapers are trying to meet the needs of readers with projects
aimed at discovering that elusive factorDwhat do the readers want?
Knight-Ridder's 25/43 project, referring to the ages of the post-World War II
"baby boomers," has experimented with formats that appeal to that particular
readership. The company's Boca Raton, Fla. News was redesigned in the early
1990s as a prototype. The Gannett Co. has used News 2000 to emphasize
"community" in its newspapers. the program was designed to improve editorial
content through key areas and to encourage a focus on the topics of interest to
Allen (1978) described the social science methodology of the Delphi
Technique as a tool used by policymakers to forecast and make plans for the
future. Forecasters, he noted, often rely on the opinions of experts but find
themselves perplexed when those experts disagree on an issue. The Delphi
Technique, as Allen explained, offers a systematic method to "reduce the
uncertainty to unity" (p. 119).
The Rand Corporation in California (Allen) developed the Delphi
in the 1960s as a way to eliminate the influences of personal interaction among
the members of a group. In the first practical use of Delphi, researchers
collected the advice of seven experts to develop an industrial target system for
nuclear weapons. The Delphi, Allen noted, operates under three distinct
characteristics: anonymous responses, controlled feedback and statistical group
response. Perhaps most important, with the Delphi, the results are reported
anonymously to each member, with an allowance for feedback on each issue in the
Of course, no one can be certain of future events - particularly
of an industry's future - and thus, in this study, the Delphi method does not
promise to reveal what technology will dominate the newspaper industry. However,
the experts in this study conducted their anonymous discussion based on their
experience in the newspaper industry, their knowledge of technology potential
and economic conditions and/or their experience as journalism educators. The
result of this Delphi represents, as Allen emphasized, "a communication climate
most conducive for rational and objective thought" (p. 121).
Selection of Subjects
Delphi methodology does not require random sampling of subjects.
Allen suggested a panel of 10 to 30 and emphasized that panelists be experts in
the topic: The main point is that they "have information to share, are motivated
to work on the problem, and the time to complete the tasks involved with the
procedure" (p. 123). The panelists for this study were selected based on their
experience as professional newspaper journalists or as college-level journalism
educators. All are involved in the professional use and/or study of advanced
technology in the newspaper industry. Computer database searches of industry
trade journals, journalism faculty listings, trade magazines and newspapers led
to the development of a list of 71 potential panelists. The potential
participants were asked, via letter, whether they wished to participate in the
For this study, 21 experts agreed to participate in three rounds of
surveys about the future of newspapers.
This study used three rounds of questionnaires as the research
instruments for the Delphi Technique. The first and third rounds consisted of
open-ended questions designed to garner a variety of opinions from the
panelists, while the second round sought an evaluation and ranking of the
responses of the first round.
In Round I, panelists were asked two questions:
1. Specifically as a result of technology/electronics, what major
changes are you seeing and/or do you expect to see in newspapers over the next
20 years? (List 5)
2. What skills will newspaper journalists need to respond to
these changes? (List 5)
Round II used a five-point semantic differential scale to allow
panelists to note which changes were "most likely" and "least likely" to acquire
in the future. Based on the panelists' responses to Round I, the changes were
divided into the categories of "Personnel," "Delivery," "Skills," "Content" and
"Industry." The panelists also noted which skills newspaper journalists were
"most likely" and "least likely" to need to respond to those changes. The skills
were divided into three categories: "Basic," "Technological" and
"Interpersonal." Duplicated answers were consolidated, resulting in 48 changes
predicted for newspapers and 44 skills suggested for journalists.
In Round III, panelists were given a list of the top five skills
(based on the results of Round II) and asked to comment on how journalists and
future journalists might best acquire these skills.
A personally addressed cover letter accompanied each
questionnaire in each of the three rounds. The Round I cover letter included an
explanation of the purpose of the study, the need for the study, the promise of
anonymity among respondents during the study, the purpose of Round I, the
response deadline, the address and phone number of the researcher and a
statement of appreciation. For Rounds II and III, the cover letters included a
statement of appreciation for the participant's prior response, the purpose of
the round, the response deadline and the address and phone numbers of the
The 21 panelists' Round I answers about changes in the industry were
consolidated into a master list of 48 for use in Round II: seven in personnel,
seven in delivery, four in skills, 13 in content, 17 in industry. Similar
responses were not repeated. The panelists' answers about skills for journalists
resulted in a list of 44: 25 in basic, nine in technological and 10 in
For statistical purposes, the blank closest to "likely" was
scored a five, with the others scored in descending order to one for the blank
closest to "unlikely." Based on this, the top five changes predicted for
newspapers and top five skills for journalists were determined. (See Tables I
Based on this scoring, the top five predicated changes for newspapers
included: 1. More demands for staff with computer expertise. 2. More part-time
and contract work. 3. (tie) Serious questions regarding copyright. Better
reproduction quality. 4. Full-page pagination; total computer layout of
newspapers. 5. A struggle by small newspapers (esp. independent) to afford
The top five predicated skills needed by journalists included: 1.
Journalists will have to learn how to keep learning and changing what they do
and how they do it. 2. A better understanding of the readership of newspapers.
3. Computerized information-gathering techniques and data manipulation
techniques. 4. A willingness/openness to communicate via a variety of media. 5.
Ability to work independently; i.e. at home or with minimal direct supervision.
Table I lists the predictions for the future of newspapers. The
higher scores indicate the more likely the change.
RATINGS OF PREDICTED CHANGES
AS A RESULT OF TECHNOLOGY
IN THE NEWSPAPER INDUSTRY
More demands for staff with computer expertise. 77
More part-time and contract work. 76
Serious questions regarding copyright. 74
Better reproduction quality. 74
Full-page pagination; total computer layout 72
A struggle by small newspapers (esp. independent) 71
to afford electronic enhancements.
Newspapers will become increasingly visual: 71
color, graphics, photos.
More special sections targeted to specific audiences. 71
Increasing emphasis on alternative methods of packaging 71
and distributing information.
Newspapers will re-sell captured information, on-line 71
Editorial and advertising staffs will become more 71
"multimedia" knowledgeable as information is distributed
Fewer personnel throughout the paper. 71
Desperation to hold or gain market share, especially
in new fields.
TABLE I (CONTINUED)
A growing gap between "have" and "have-not" newspapers 68
based on whether they have the amount of capital needed
to invest in costly new technology.
More newspaper buyouts and combining of several
community papers into either one newspaper from the
region's largest city or, several newspapers, each with
a different city name on the front page nameplate.
The question "What is journalism" or "what, or who,
is a journalist" will become extremely relevant.
Fewer newspapers as we now know them. 66
More newspapers will provide interactive capabilities 66
for their audiences.
Increasing emphasis on alternative methods of gathering 66
A move toward personalizing of advertising. 64
Journalists will become more accessible to readers/users 62
(because of) E-mail, faxes, etc.
Much more dialogue with readers/users, with an ability 62
for us to respond immediately to them and for them
to react immediately to what we do.
Quickened speed of reporting and editing. 62
Evolvement of the news library into a source of 62
considerable revenue for the newspaper.
Discussion (exchange of information) will be seen 61
as a larger part of what newspapers do.
The line between newspapers, the electronic media and 61
news services will get very blurred.
An explosion of information that may overwhelm the line 61
editors. Newspapers across the country may become even
"Information" provision will matter less: reducing, managing, 60
separating, boiling down information will matter more.
Breakdown of stories into several parts (pictorial, graphics, etc.) 60
for entering any point.
TABLE I (CONTINUED)
What the "value-added" is of the journalist, or editorial end, 60
of the operation will have to be rethought.
Greater centralization of some functions of geographically 58
disparate papers under the same ownership.
Greater quality of product overall. 56
Laws affecting access to government data will be revised 55
Fewer people doing more work with less attention to 54
detail and depth.
There will be fewer newspapers available only in paper. 54
More local news coverage; especially in how local government works. 53
Improved deadlines/later news in print. 52
More attention to young readers. 51
Ability to deliver what market-and-profit-obsessed owners demand 51
in ways that serve the public's needs.
Stable, but smaller circulations. 50
Newspapers might have a way (via on-line) to regain lost national 49
Knight-Ridder/Roger Fidler will try out the electronic tablet 48
and upgrade its interactive capabilities.
Newspapers will offer better coverageDmore in-depth stories. 47
Loss of human creativity via formatted stories and page designs. 46
Reporters and editors will become even more isolated from society. 45
More emphasis will go into providing information for information's 45
sake, rather than worrying about the aesthetic nature of the prose
Printed news will disappear in favor of electronic delivery within 39
the next 30 years.
Table II lists the predictions for the skills journalists will
need to respond to changes in the industry. The higher scores indicate the more
likely the need for the skill
RATINGS OF PREDICTED SKILLS
FOR FUTURE JOURNALISTS
IN THE NEWSPAPER INDUSTRY
Journalists will have to learn how to keep learning 75
and changing what they do and how they do it.
A better understanding of the readership of newspapers. 73
Computerized information-gathering techniques and data 72
A willingness/openness to communicate via a variety of media. 71
Ability to work independently; i.e. at home or with minimal 70
The ability to juggle ever-increasing demands to service 69
their publishers' increasing array of products and services.
Ability to do a variety of tasks under one job description; 69
multiple skills in writing, editing, photography, etc.
Ability to understand/use computer hardware and software. 68
Good judgment; ability to weigh the significance of stories. 68
Journalists will need to know more about protecting and promoting 67
the First AmendmentDespecially Freedom of Information. They
must learn to convince the public of the need for a free pressDalways.
Knowledge of economics, business, finance and marketing. 65
Ability to rely solely on computers for all processing of content. 65
TABLE II (CONTINUED)
Time management and paper discipline will become increasingly 65
important as will development of the ability to store information
in a hierarchy.
Journalists need to be more comfortable in interneting with
Ability to interact with all kinds of people.
Critical thinking skills. 63
Ability to subject electronically gathered information to 63
to quantitative analysis.
Enhanced deadline skillsDmore immediate transmission of 61
information requires a faster journalistic turnaround.
Organizational skills. 61
Very quick editing expertise. 61
Ability to complete work in an accurate and fair manner. 61
The ability to communicate clearly and concisely, more so 60
The need to attend workshops and seminars to improve 60
one's basic skills.
Business training and skills. 59
A better feel for foreign affairs issues. 58
Ability to be flexible and view changing market demands 58
A better understanding of which individuals and organizations 58
nationally and internationally represent the top of their
area of expertise.
A better grasp of what increased accessibility to readers/users
Civility will be a "skill" journalists will have to master. 56
Typography knowledge. 55
Improved writing skills 53
Journalists must become generalistsDtake the mass media writing 53
Foreign languages (as the world grows ever smaller) 53
TABLE II (CONTINUED)
QuotesDNewspaper writers/reporters need to interview 52
Very improved reporting skills; ability to cover any and all 52
More curiosity and persistence. 51
GrammarDmore time spent in the classroom teaching 48
the love of language.
Improved spelling skills. 47
Improved punctuation skills. 46
This round consisted of panelists' comments as to how journalists
can/should acquire the necessary skills to be successful in the newspaper
industry in the future. The panelists noted the importance of on-going training
for journalists. They said that journalists can and should learn technological
skills and newsgathering skills before entering the workforce but noted the
importance of workshops, seminars and other forms of continuing education. The
panelists also pointed out the importance of using research and daily contact to
keep up with consumers' needs. In regard to the diversity/willingingess to use a
variety of media, the panelists suggested that journalism schools offer
broader-based studies programs so that students learn a variety of skills
(including self-discipline) and are exposed to different ways of thinking.
1. Journalists will have to learn how to keep learning and changing
what they do and how they do it.
"In-service training will have to be mandatory. Reporters and editors
will have to recognize daily that they cannot remain stale. They must improve by
accepting criticism and finding ways daily that they can improve what they did
yesterday. Journalists must critique their own work and learn from it. Reporters
are both teachers and students. They can never stop learning. Never. Learning
from other publications, especially the New York Times, can help. Most will have
to adopt higher standards and write better. The new research study by the Nieman
Foundation at Harvard can help all of us to improveDdaily."
"How to use statistics, store and call them up through databases,
provide backgrounds, quickly from disks and newspaper databases, etc., must be
skills updated regularly."
"Continuing education, more programs in newsrooms to send journalists
back to school or to seminarsDat the Poynter Institute, for instance."
"Attend company-sponsored workshops on managing change. Newspapers
should train their managers to manage change."
"Although there will always be a need for reporters, writers and
editors, journalists need to keep learning the delivery skills necessary to
transport what they prepare to customers, no matter how the customers might
prefer it. Print journalists should regard evolving communications technologies
as opportunities rather than threats. While print alone can be powerful,
addition of audio and video may enhance a report."
"Darwin will prevail here. The industry already is changing very
rapidly. To a large extent, it will be true that those who cannot adapt won't
"This can be done by keeping up with the news. By reading the other
daily and weekly newspapers available in their community, by watching news TV
and listening to news radio, by having membership in the local chapter and
national Society of Professional Journalists and other journalism organizations,
by actively participating in the events of the local community, especially
events they are not covering, and having membership in church, men's/women's
social organizations and NOT as the publicity person. Also, they can return to
school for classes/degrees in history, econ., poli science, business, urban
"To continue to grow, the newsroom culture must seriously consider
instituting 5-and 10-year training cycles. It may take more than this span, but
five years is a start. In my experience, reporters need about five years to go
from apprenticeship status to well-trained status, then they'll want to consider
graduate work, a second degree, seminars at API or some other formalized
training. The training must be formal and systematic because reporters don't
read. They barely read their own newspapers. Reading a book about reporting is a
joke. Some do all these things but these rare people rarely stay reporters. They
move into higher-paying jobs. The advanced training should cover all the
advanced skills that academics use...survey research, content analysis and so
on. Reporters must then be trained to recognize a valid trend and one that
appears important but is a function of the numbers. Newspapers must be willing
to fund this advanced training or risk losing more readers to other media."
"Tighter ties to universities."
"Well, this isn't rocket science. Journalists have always had to
learn as they go, as they get new beats, new assignments, promotions, etc. Now
they have to learn how to tap into databases, massage information and speak more
directly and personally to their readers/users.
There are courses at community colleges, at computer stores. There's
self-help stuff. And there's an obligation of management to see to it that
journalists receive the training they need to do the best job possible."
"If journalism schools do a better job of teaching students how to
think, future journalists will be better positioned to do this. However, I'm not
optimistic that future j schools will have either the resources, or even the
mind set, seriously to set about doing this.
2. A better understanding of the readership of newspapers.
"It's absolutely essential that journalists keep pace with their
audience. Customers increasingly are becoming accustomed to receiving
information via 'multimedia'."
"In 25 years will the typical newspaper still be delivered on
newsprint, at your doorstep?"
"This requires constant talking with readers. It will take as
much time to cultivate readers as to cultivate sources, but it's a new and
necessary part of being a journalist. But the talking comes easier, what with
e-mail and chat rooms. Again, management has a responsibility here, to do more
readership surveys and to make sure everyone in the newsroom gets the results."
"Readership is declining. We have to find ways to lure readers.
Big stories as the Oklahoma City bombing cannot do it alone. All of us have to
"sell" journalism better. There must be better understanding that journalism is
integral to the survival of the democratic process as we know it now."
"Editorials and a certain amount of canter have to be what
readers need for information..."
"Better training in journalism and communications schools; more
training and in statistics and survey techniques."
"Management must survey readership, show the information, then
prepare a strategy for meetingDor ignoringDreader preferences or needs."
"Print managers slowly are recognizing that they must have
different attitudes to their reader/customer. With competitive pressures
mounting from on-line as well as broadcast providers, newspapers must be more
willing to recognize what readers want and give it to them. The hard part is to
force that down into the organization. It must be policy to work."
"Journalists, working with research sourcesDindependent of the
medium to be surveyedDshould help design market research surveys, and any other
way that they can understand what people want in their medium. Even serving a
few hours or days representing the medium at a local or county fair booth can be
enlighteningDif they will wear a name/title badge, talk with the public and take
notes on what they hear. As well, journalists should encourage the medium for
which they work to hold open house days so the public can walk through, see the
work environment and ask questions, and again, notes should be taken on
questions/answers with feedback in op/ed columns, discussion radio/TV shows."
"More contact with citizens."
"The days of newsroom isolationism are over. The newsroom that
disregards circulation and advertising is the newsroom that is working itself
out of a job. Reporters and editors must realize that middle-age women are still
their most loyal readers for most of the content. Reporters must be taught
through in-house seminars the need to make content visual, easy-to-understand,
and yes, graphic. A reporters should be required to take a graphic artists with
her on one assignment a week to see the story through the artist's eyes."
3. Computerized information-gathering techniques and data
"Computers and the availability of databases offers heretofore
unheard of opportunities for journalists as they attempt to gain perspective on
stories. Computer skills are necessary to take advantage of these opportunities
as well as helping to make sure data is interpreted correctly."
"Precision journalism, exposure to social scientific methodology,
including statistics, exposure to electronic data resources all can be provided
as part of an undergraduate program. But many undergrads would need to be shoved
in that direction, since an embarrassingly high percentage of them can't
reliably compute a percentage!"
"Again, it's a matter of making this kind of learning a priority
and having management encourage the learning. Software is available to help with
almost any kind of a situation. And there are seminars being offered, there are
working journalists willing to share their expertise, there are IRE
"On-line and Internet are here to stay. We all have to accept
this. We have no choice. We cannot, however, sacrifice our basic journalist
principles. Never. And we must face the future with optimismDnot with a sense of
"Special seminars and formal newsroom training sessions."
"Journalism schools have to ... teach electronic skills to
aspirants. Multiple talents will becoming increasingly important as the media
move closer together."
"Journalists should attend trade shows, find out what is new in
the technical side of media and how technology is and will impact their lives
and those who use the media. If classes are available to learn more about
technology where the journalist is employed, through the community or at a local
recreation, high school, community college or university, they should
attendDeven if that particular technology is not being used on the job yet."
"I have no idea."
"It's a must. We in J schools have got to teach our students to
be comfortable with Internet, to hopping from web to web and hot link to hot
link. WE must re-design our newspapers with all kind of entry points into an
electronic version that will use sound and video to snag that reader for
goodDours and his."
4. A willingness/openness to communicate via a variety of media.
"Readers are viewers are listeners, etc. Young persons seem more
comfortable with "new media" such as PCs, MTV, electronic games and on-line
services than they are with more traditional media like newspapers. Journalists
should not ignore this trend but, rather, regard it as an opportunity."
"Communicate with whom? via..media: two-way media? On one level,
openness to others is a personality trait learned during childhood
"This sounds as though it's a personality question. Is someone
willing to be open and quick about entering chat rooms and answering e-mail?
Well, modern journalists will have to be, because it will be an integral part of
the job. It will be part of the interviewing process. Asking the right questions
at the right time in the right way have always been part of the job of a good
"TV and radio journalists will have to be more willing to adopt
the professional principles of the Society of Professional Journalists and other
print journalists. Always."
"Many journalists now think of other media as the developing
story for their human employee. (There are) lots of writers in talk, sports,
government talk shows because of the newsroom knowledge."
"Broader-based media studies programs in journalism and
"Company-sponsored classes and entrepreneurial cells."
"Multiple talents will becoming increasingly important as the
media move closer together."
"With knowledge of technology and the ability to use several
(more than FAX!), even Internet e-mail, journalists can at least be on the
fringe understanding the newDrelatively newDsources for communication. E-mail
itself is the new ham radio (sans voice but instead with typing fingers!) and
should be the absolute minimum expected of all journalists to use for
"It's a must. To gain the X generation, information must come in
to other forms. The print product can survive as the index to these forms.
Again, J schools must retool and help students with this issue. I'm teaching a
class now where the student is required to search web sites and report to me. In
addition, the student is helping me develop our electronic student newspaper."
5. Ability to work independently; i.e. at home or with minimal
"It seems apparent that telecommuting may become the work
environment for an increasing number of journalists. Speedy delivery of copy and
graphics, traffic challenges and the global nature of coverage all contribute to
this trend. It will mean that journalists must exercise appropriate discipline."
"Whether or not they wish to, many journalists will be forced to
do this as employers seek ways to reduce payment of benefits to employees.
Obviously, having PCs and a modem are going to be necessary, if not sufficient."
"Again, this is just the way it is going to be in the industry
and all of usDschools, managers, seminar leadersDare going to have to teach
these skills and hire those who have them."
"Self-starters are always in demand. You have to demonstrate that
you can work on your own without constant hands-on supervision. Journalists
should be independent, anyhow. Always."
"Some part-timers now file area government meetings from home
computers and hold down full-time jobs elsewhere. Reporters usually work well at
homeDless distraction, if kids are older."
"These skills must be mastered by the time a person is in high
"A two-edged sword. Economic pressures and improved technology
will encourage employers to outsource more and more work and to create
telecommuting opportunities. The ability to work and think independently must be
fostered by J-schools.
"Journalists should be able to use the resources from those
available via watching, listening and seeing. The journalists is the public's
representative at the source of the story. Journalists of today, if they are
going to be successful, must be information processors, not human word
processors. Too many of college graduates are only the latter, and I have
noticed this to be a disease as the greater number of journalism departments at
colleges/universities have changed to become communication(s) departments; a
"communicologist" is not a serious, curious, original thinking, critical
thinking college/university graduate.
Too many are pretty faces who, following their ego, only want to
be the TV news anchor in the most major market possibleDand for these folks,
this is where the money is. Bahhhh. Those who lack mechanical language skills
and would not know a story if it hit him or her in the face, have "get by" work
habits need much direct supervision!!"
"Since the earthquake in Los Angeles, thousands are working from
home using computers and modems. My sense is that maverick approach is coming,
but most newsrooms that I worked in want warm bodies within a few feet of an
editor's desk to scold and to punish with the latest unexpected news story. For
this reason, I'm not sure if this situation will come to pass. Certainly, the
editing teaching ca be farmed out. J schools could help writers with this
approach by using distance learning and Internet e-mail to communication
It's no surprise that the top predicted changes for newspapers
related directly to computers. What is interesting here is that the panelists
consideredDin almost an extreme fashionDboth the positive and negative influence
of computers. The top two predictions could be taken either way: more demands
for staff with computer expertise and more part-time and contract work.
The other positives: better reproduction, full-page pagination,
more visual newspapers, more special sections targeted to audiences, more
accessibility to the audiences, quickened speed of reporting and editing, loss
of human creativity, distribution and re-selling of on-line information, more
knowledgeable news staff. The negatives: questions about copyright (a whole new
research area), a struggle by small newspapers to afford the technology, fewer
personnel throughout the paper, a desperation to hold or gain market shares, a
growing gap between the "haves" and "have-nots", more newspaper buyouts, fewer
newspapers, problems with access to information, greater centralization of
newspapers, confusion about how to define "journalist." The panelists
illustrated the confusion and perhaps fright that many educators/professionals
encounter when planning for the future. So many of us have been afraid of what's
happening to the industry, as we watch century-old newspapers die, that we are
timid about placing our trust in anything that promises a future for newspapers.
The panelists' suggestions for necessary skills mostly dealt with
three areas: the ability to use the technology; the ability to work
independently; and the ability to interact well with other people. It is
interesting to note that this conjures a picture of a journalist stuck behind a
computer (doing all the research, interviewing, writing, editing, discussion)
from his/her home office. How, then, will he/she interact with colleagues and
members of the community? On-line discussions cannot replace reading
faces/expressions and mannerisms.
The first "skill" is a statement that reflects the knowledge/fear
necessary for dealing with any major change: "Journalists will have to learn how
to keep learning and changing what they do and how they do it." Suggestions
about technological skills include, be able to communicate through a variety of
media, using the computer to gather and analyze information, ability to do a
variety of tasks, the need to attend workshops. In the area of working with
other people, the panelists suggested as the second skill: "A better
understanding of the readership of newspapers." Several said that this might be
accomplished through being a part of the community: attending events, joining
clubs; in general, getting to know the readers in a personal way. Most of the
panelists agreed that this "old-fashioned" way offers a true accessibility that
on-line communication does not.
The panelists, as a group, showed evidence of the nervous
energyDa positive fearDthat accompanies any major change. The fear is positive
because it spurs us on and gives us the ability to meet the changes. The
panelists' discussion showed that they see the current technological changes as
similar to others that have occurred in the industry, especially over the past
50 years. The challenge is to keep changing and keep learning and to use that
energy to stay ahead ofthe changes.
Allen, T. Harrell. (1978) The Delphi Technique. In New Methods in
Social Science Research (pp. 119-131). New York: Praeger Publishers.
Case, Tony. (April 1, 1995) Promoting The Strengths of Print
Journalism. In Editor & Publisher: 128:13, pp. 11, 24-25).
Giles, Robert H. (Spring 1993) Change Shapes Trends in Newspaper
Management. In Newspaper Research Journal: 14:2, pp. 32-39.
Lawrence, David Jr. (Spring 1993) Why Future is Promising for
Newspaper Industry. In Newspaper Research Journal: 14:2, pp. 11-17.
(based on 1995 employment)
y David Scott: electronic information publisher for the Atlanta
Journal and Constitution
y Rich Jaroslovsky: editor of the Interactive Edition for theWall
y Jay Smith: president, Cox News Division in Atlanta
y Paul Harral: electronic editor, Ft. Worth Star Telegram.
y Greg Moore: managing editor, The Boston Globe
y Howard Tyner: editor,Chicago Tribune
y Roy Heffelfinger: managing editor,The Morning Call in
Allentown, Pa. y Curt Pierson: managing editor, Gainesville Sun in Florida
y Nelson W.C. Lampe: executive news editor, Omaha World-Herald
y David London: E.W. Scripps Journalism School, Ohio University
y Cecilia Friend: associate professor, Department of Journalism
at Utica College
y Barbara F. Luebke: associate professor, Department of
Journalism at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston
y Michael R. Smith: assistant professor, Department of Mass
Communication at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa.
y Edmund J. Rooney: assistant professor, Communication Department
at Loyola University in Chicago
y Steven E. Ames: assistant professor, Department of
Communication Arts at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks
y James Lemert: professor, School of Journalism at the University
of Oregon in Eugene
y John R. McClelland: associate professor, Department of
Journalism at Roosevelt University in Chicago
y George P. Evans: associate professor, Department of Mass
Communication, St. Bonaventure University
y David H. Nimmer: assistant professor, School of Journalism at
the University of St. Thomas in Afton, Minn.
y William L. McCorkle: professor, Department of Journalism at
Baylor University in Waco