Digital Apprehension

By Emily Tozer

Magazine journalism is changing as we speak. No longer do editors assign a simple print story. Now they have to think about web, iPad, mobile and even eBook editions. These new platforms provide many opportunities: links, video and interactive elements that can add to a story in a way that print is unable to do. But how many of us know how to do that yet?

In an article on Mashable, one editor said she worries about how much she currently relies on freelancers.

“I’m really trying to train my staff and keep those marketable people from going elsewhere,” said Dana Points of Parents and American Baby.

I’m not going to turn this into a classic sob-journalism-student story about how much I love print magazines (a lot) and how I’ll continue to prefer them to online editions (I will) because I truthfully believe that magazines’ audiences are loyal enough that print editions aren’t going anywhere. My concern is that those of us in school now are going to graduate before this works its way into our curriculum and by the time we are looking for jobs, we’ll be expected to know it.

I find slight comfort in the fact that the world of journalism is always changing and we have managed to keep up with it thus far. I bet when magazines first started using the Internet there were a few students panicking about having to learn to use it while also adapting to their first jobs.

“You have to prove to people that you’re willing to learn new things,” said Michael Corey, a Drake graduate who is now a digital innovations editor at the center for investigative reporting. “There’s always so much going on; if you’re not learning all the time, you’re not that valuable.”

Another blog that wrote about the pros and cons of iPad magazines noted that the “bulky” iPad edition of Wired was “packed with interactive goodies.”

These “interactive goodies” are what we need to add to our list of things to think about when we’re working on an article. I think blogging experience will help us develop these skills rather quickly. It’s no iPad edition, but we do consider how our text will look online.

Do you feel confident that you’ll be able to create web, iPad, mobile and eBook components to a story? When do you think these skills will start being taught in the college classroom? What other components of online journalism are you apprehensive about having to use in the real world without learning them in school?

Photo by Long Nguyen.


7 responses to “Digital Apprehension

  1. I do feel nervous that I won’t be able to live up to employer’s expectations, but at the same time, I am confident that Drake is doing everything possible to prepare me for the real world. I know they have been working on adding to the curriculum to help us out, what with the recent additions of J31 and I believe there is an application class now for iPads or there is at least projects that help students develop their own. I like to believe that, like stated above, employers will expect us to learn on a daily basis, but not to arrive on the first day knowing everything there is to know. One of the best parts of journalism is that we adapt and change daily, and if we knew everything there is to know it wouldn’t be fun. I am thankful that I am going to (hopefully) enter into a career that isn’t boring and allows me to change, instead of being in a static job for the rest of my life.

  2. I have struggled with my feelings about digital publications. While I think they are necessary to keep up with technology and trends, I think print also serves a different purpose. As a part of the Urban Plaines Magazine staff, a publication that is purely digital, I feel like it suits our audience in many ways. Then there are timeless publications like Better Homes & Gardens that have apps, online and print. The print has one of the highest circulations in the world and is known for its pass-along rate. So I guess my stance on it, for now, is that it really depends on your audience and what your audience wants.

  3. I, too, am nervous about entering the “real world” about all of this digital media knowledge. I can say, however, that I do know a few people that go to other journalism schools and have not had nearly the online work we have and I’m only a sophomore. I’m confident that Drake will keep up with most of the digital media, but if not, I’m with Megan. I hope my future employer expects me to learn as I go, not just know it by the time I get there.

  4. Emily - Drake University

    I agree that there are differences between print and digital publications. I think that means that we should approach writing them differently as well and that is another thing we have to learn.
    Like Megan said, Drake does a really good job updating the curriculum to fit the new journalism trends. This can be seen with how professors integrate Twitter into their classes. My concern, and I’m clearly not the only one, is that there is so much that is always changing and we will all have to keep up with it whereas now if we keep up with it, it’s because we want to. Regardless of what kind of student you are, there is a difference between, say, writing a blog because you are assigned to and writing a blog because you choose to.

  5. I agree with all of you – we need to be tuned in to new technologies as well as willing to try them out. I am a grandma when it comes to social media, i.e. I try to limit my use because my Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr time cuts into my study time. I’m hesitant to try new things because I don’t need another social media addiction.

    However, I try to keep up on the new trends because I don’t want to get left behind in the future. We definitely need to emphasize how versatile we are and that we can be flexible in the field: we are no longer just writers or photographers, but instead we’re this new hybrid of the two.

  6. Everytime an adult asks me what my major is, I tell them Magazine-Journalism. And almost everytime I get the question “Do you have to learn every that magazines do online too?”
    It’s true though, the internet is also changing, and so is technology. Companies are always trying to find the new best thing for consumers to have…so that means we as future journalist need to keep up with the times and learn what we can while we are in school.
    I know it is valuable to keep learning and learning, but I’m sure I’m not the only college student who thinks “we can’t learn everything”.
    I know we can’t know every bit and piece of information that is out there, but I think it is in all of our best interest to learn what we can. This will only make our jobs easier in the future, not mention (hopefully) it will be easier to find a job? Maybe…

  7. During our profile assignment for J91, the graduate that I was assigned to said being able to learn quickly was a big requirement in the journalism field. She also said that it’s important to get a job right out of college because your skills will be outdated within two years. Scary stuff. I’m currently working at Meredith, and I realize that she was right but also that it’s not as scary as I thought. I’m compiling old magazines on a CD for Meredith to sell so I have to work solely on the computer. I’ve always been surrounded by technophiles so it’s easy for me to figure things out on my own if need be. But even if I hadn’t grown up around an electrical/computer engineer and a computer science major, I think I would have been able to learn about all of the required technology. Most if not all of my peers seem to know their way around a computer and how to execute an action by logic alone. So I believe our generation would be the best candidates to use multiple media for publishing. Whether we learn it in school or on the job, I believe we can do it all.

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