Hey newsies, make way for the websies

UPDATE: Clarifications have been made to this post in the comments section

Three recent J school grads bemoan that they work for newspaper web sites where most of what they do is click buttons to paste news stories and photos on the site. This is their first job in the “new” news media. As “web producers,” they are antsy to get on with what they were trained to do at good J schools – gather news and information and package that into multimedia stories.

Where’s the “journalism” in what they do, they wonder? They look around the newsroom and it is top heavy with aging boomer reporters, many of whom are about to riffed or fired. Traditional photojournalists get the plum assignments for the web. And video is not that hot a priority for the newspaper companies they work for. On the off chance there is an opening for a newsroom reporter, chances are the opportunity will go to a seasoned “old style” journalist with lots of years of experience under his or her belt.

The slow pace of change in their newsrooms is exasperating even though they work for a daily “newspaper” they go to Twitter and Google for breaking news. They wonder what the newspaper of the future will look like. Definitely not a broadsheet. Maybe a magazine format with opinion and interpretative stories.

“I’ve been taught to multitask and I know how to do it all in a highly specialized format,” says Mathilde Piard, a recent grad of Columbia School for Journalism. She works as a “web producer” for the Palm Beach Post and spends most of her workday updating stories and making style changes to news stories for posting on the website.

“My true love is journalism,” says Piard. “I’m a little disappointed.”

Given the dire economy, though, Piard and University of Florida grads Mallory Colliflower and Bridget Carey, a web editor and tech reporter, respectively, for the Miami Herald web site, say they are happy to have jobs period. “I’m not complaining,” said Colliflower, who graduated in 2008.

Time is definitely on their side, as they wait for the newsies to make way for the websies.
In the meantime, patience is virtue.

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