Digital Journalism

Multimedia Skills Reflection

I totally get it, if I were a journalism employer I would want to hire a young college graduate who has practical knowledge. During the interview I would ask him or her, “Can you do this?” I might ask, “Can you do that?” I’d definitely question whether or not he or she could do this and that.

All that matters as a young journalist is what I can do. During internship interviews editors usually try to get an idea of just how capable I am to function in today’s media world. When they feel confident I’m not completely incompetent they might ask me what I’m interested in or even a question like “What do you think about this and that?”

I’m ready for questions that start off with “What do you think about….?” After all, being a college student and all I have taken a variety of classes that have opened my mind up to new information. The University of Colorado Boulder is great because it makes you take so many elective credits that really have nothing to do with the industry you’re going into. I can’t tell you the number of times my class on the Russian Revolution has come in handy or how often I use the information I garnered in Art History.

Even within my journalism program, 60 percent of class information is theoretical and 40 percent is learning practical skills. Furthermore, most of the classes that teach practical knowledge aren’t required. For instance, I didn’t have to take photojournalism, digital media or the data crunching class called CU News Corps.

Yeah, it’s easy to say journalism schools aren’t preparing students for the job market. But, that’s like blaming a man who teaches you about fishing, for your inability to catch a fish. I like that CU Boulder doesn’t require all student to learn multimedia skills, basics of programming, data and statistical skills and the basics of programing. These aren’t yet rudimentary knowledge all young college grads are expected to know. That makes those skills coveted. It also shows initiative that I took photojournalism and digital media. And, I fully expect to be less competitive than the student who took those classes and CU News Corps.

But, how competitive we are is not to CU Boulder’s credit or shame. Journalism students know the nature of the beast. Some of us seek opportunities to enhance our resumes like elective classes or internships. Others take their chances that the school’s curriculum which may include a couple flagship classes – like my reporting 3 class where I had to get an internship – will be enough. If I were a journalism employer I would know the difference between those two types of college grads and make the appropriate decision.

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Ethics Blog

You know how journalists are supposed to cover the news in a fair and balanced manner? Well, they are, and they usually go about doing it in one of two ways. The first is to practice “objectivity” — the art of having no opinion. The second way, and perhaps the more popular option, is for journalists to disclose their biases and do their best to cover both sides of the story accurately.

Thanks to a great new invention called the Internet, readers, bloggers and other publications can hold newspapers to being fair and balanced. This was the case when the liberal blog ProgressNow Colorado called The Pueblo Chieftain‘s coverage of Colorado state senator Angela Giron unethical this spring.

In case you haven’t heard, Giron is a democratic legislator who represents the district Pueblo, Colo. encompasses. During the 2013 legislative period, she supported stricter gun-control laws that led some of her constituents to successfully petition for a recall election.

The executives at The Chieftain were not supporters of Giron’s work in Denver, so they too signed the recall petitions. However, the execs decided not tell their readers about their political position. To complicate things further, the newspaper’s general manager sent the senator an email asking her to rethink her position on the gun laws. That email exposed the paper’s bias and was interpreted as a threat by the senator.

What’s troubling is that blogs exposed The Pueblo Chieftain to be in a position where its coverage of Giron and the recall election were called into question. My hometown paper is certainly not the first to have online users expose potential unethical practices.

Today’s newspapers must truly be fair and balanced or not claim to be. A well-written editorial ran in The Chieftain after the scandal explaining how the executives’ political views don’t affect the newsroom. That information should have been presented as soon as the executives decided where they stood on the issue, not after being criticized.

“Why is today significant?”

That’s hilarious, I have thought over and over again as I watched big name corporations get hacked on Twitter. And, when I hear about mythical hackers taking over entire commercial websites to make a point, my mind registers it as a small prank in today’s digital age. However, the hacking of the New York Times on Tuesday changed that.

Tuesday’s cyber-attack means that world’s media organizations, no matter how unbiased and established, are not truly safe on the web. The New York Times reported the Syrian Electronic Army is taking credit for shutting its website down for several hours. The pro President Bashar al-Assad group hacked The Washington Post earlier this month.

It’s fascinating, in a terrifying way, to think that a foreign group can censor media in America. For a few hours these groups can make the world’s great watchdogs play dead. That does much more than reduce the 24-hour news cycle, it allows groups to hijack media organizations to make a statement, shows vulnerability and negatively impacts the country.

The last claim is not an over exaggeration. In April, stock markets dipped after the Associated Press’s Twitter account was hacked and lies about a White House explosion were sent out. That’s a real example of the danger of groups using trusted names like the AP, The New York Times or The Washington Post to spread falsehoods or take political stands. Furthermore, these incidents lead you to wonder, what else isn’t quite as secure at these media organizations previously thought? Are sources protected? Is content?