Management was forever pulling together cross-departmental teams to focus on one thing or another. The editor would ask me if I wanted to join the team but who has time for that? I was too busy chasing down good stories to join folks from advertising, composing, production, circulation. They were forever meeting and talk, talk, talk. It seemed to take forever for anything to come out of those meetings and talks.
Years later, when I was put into situations where I had to work with those other departments and get them to see things my way, I was ill prepared. I didn't know enough about their processes and problems.
Good reporting comes from establishing good relationships with sources. I lost sight of how that applied in-house as well. I wish I had taken advantage of venues that would have expanded my view of the business.
My thoughts in 1999:
Just like you, I've read Ed's words and tried to take them to heart. That's why I opted to spend the day learning about technology that, to be frank, a writer doesn't need to know much about.
But, hey, I figure Ed's got a great point: I may one day be a supervisory editor who has to worry about coordinating both traditional types and techies. How could I ever do that effectively if I don't understand what they all do, what their strengths and weaknesses are, what their most pressing concerns are?
By going to that session, I also learned more about advertising. Plenty of folks from the Trib's ad department were also in attendance. They don't need to know code either, but they do need to learn more about ad placement on a Web page and they do need to know more about my reasons, as a journalist, for wanting to be careful about the hows and wheres those ads are posted online.
How does this apply to you? Take the time to learn more about the business behind the news. Chat with the people in photo and behind the graphics desk. They also have concerns that are just as legitimate as yours.
And keep an open mind. While we don't need to know all sorts of computer languages just yet, I do believe reporters and photographers should understand the following:
1. HTML. Know it and know it well.
2. Photoshop. The big one. You need to know how this works, folks. I can't stress that enough. Take some time to play in Photoshop. You'll be doing yourself a big favor.
3. How to use a digital camera, and download the images taken into a computer and yes, into Photoshop for editing.
4. How to use a digital recorder and how to load the audio captured into a computer. Know how to edit that sound into audio clips that will support your story.
5. How to use a video camera or capture video from a TV. How to load that video into a computer and manipulate/edit it once you have.
6. A Web-page building software. The Tribune Co. uses Front Page, but Dreamweaver is also really popular. Tribune Interactive is working on the development of its own Web-production tool to avoid the pitfalls of off-the-shelf software and to ensure that the company can present information in the ways it wants.
My thoughts in 2007:
Wow! Im so pleased to look back at this particular tutorial and see that I was on the right track almost nine years ago. In the time that has passed, I have, indeed, needed to know more about how to meld old and new media. And the code I was learning that day in the Tribune Tower? It has come in handy many times since. Now, Im working as an online news editor at The Denver Post and I struggle at times to remember a day when I wasnt having to think about how to present information on the Net. Technology is shaking up newsrooms every day and thats a good thing. These are exciting times to be in journalism.