Eight Things Journalists Should Keep in Mind


Journalism is changing. It has been. Magazines are folding. Newspapers are dying. And journalists are starting to sweat. Old news.

Some people believe things are beginning to stabilize, but we are in the midst of a revolution. No doubt about it.

As journalists attempt to embrace new responsibilities and stretch themselves into different roles, many are still groaning and only looking at the small picture. Others, like Philip Trippenbach, are remembering that journalists must be flexible.

In his 2008 blog, Trippenbach talks about the role of journalists changing from “messengers to sense-makers.” What a powerful and true statement. Yet a year later, some people still don’t get it. Although the rate of change has begun to slow, things will not going to change back—meaning either step up or get out of the way!

Here are some things journalists can do:

1. Stay true to the roots of journalism—remember why we do it.

2. Write what you believe, and believe what you write.

3. Don’t be afraid of change. It can be your friend.

4. Be versatile. News writers write short-term, while magazine writers write long-term. Be able to do both.

5. Think ahead or we may all end up like the newspaper industry.

6. Take a stand.

7. Take the time to learn something new whenever you can. It will make you more valuable than you will ever know.

8. Be flexible.

Food for thought:

Will or have the changes in the world of journalism alter the way you write? Why or why not?

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4 responses to “Eight Things Journalists Should Keep in Mind

  1. Sadly, I think the way in which we write has already been drastically altered to better fit the demands of the changing industry. We’re writing with keywords in mind: rather than choosing the most significant meaning, we are striving to please google.
    Rather than clever, we’re focusing on simplicity, brevity, and clarity.
    Things have definitely changed.

    • Certainly you’re right that we have to write tightly, simply and “SEO-ly.”

      But I also think that online might be the place where in-depth, narrative journalism survives. As newspapers and magazines cut newshole and editorial pages, it’s harder to convince editors to run an “epic.”

      But online, there is no “newshole.” It’s limitless. And multimedia can be a rich enhancement to this kind of jouralism.

      Maybe the Web isn’t the end of serious, in-depth literary journalism. Maybe – just maybe – it’s the savior.

      Writerandeditors.com has links to great narrative online journalism. Scroll almost to the end. http://writersandeditors.com/narrative_nonfiction_57378.htm

  2. I think that these “changes” are already unwritten rules that journalists have to use for their articles to be read. I don’t know if writers and reporters will ever fully lose the messenger status quo they were originally assigned to, but it’s important that they’re changing with the times. If journalists and the publications they write for aren’t up to date, they’ll be forgotten or lost in translation. Newspapers are a prime example, and no one wants to end up on the back burner.

  3. Nate Granzow wrote:

    Rather than clever, we’re focusing on simplicity, brevity, and clarity.

    And what’s wrong with that? Simplicity, brevity and clarity are the cornerstones of good writing for journalists. Would you – and more importantly, your readers – prefer complexity, length and obfuscation?

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