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The conservatism of journalism students revisited

Despite how Norway's most successful newspaper, both in terms of profits and readers, is the online version of VG, aspiring journalists would rather work for VG's print version. The former is currently hiring, the latter firing. Still, while 1510 applied for summer jobs in VG this year, the printed tabloid, VG online only received 162 applications. Öyvind Naess, VG's Human Resources director, said he thought this indicated that journalism education was still stuck in 'old patterns of thinking' (via Kampanje).

This reminds me of an excellent post by Martin Stabe:

"Why are journalism students apparently 'closing their eyes to reality'? It is a strange creature, the iPod-teatherd, MySpace-surfing, hip young hack who wants nothing more than to crank out copy on a Remington in time for the evening edition to go off-stone. Yet it seems to be a fairly common species."

Stabe links to a number of interesting posts on this issue, including this one from Rob Curley:

"Know how to write. Know how to tell a story. Know how to conduct an interview. Know how to research your ass off. Traditional journalism skills will *never* go out of vogue. I don’t care what the latest gizmo is, the foundation that everything will be built upon are those core journalism skills," but: "Newsrooms are getting smaller. My gut tells me that the journalists who are going to survive all of this recent goofiness will be the ones who are committed to the journalism, not the medium."


This conservatism is strange and being a mature student on the 1st year of a journalism degree,I can totally relate to Martin's comments.
What is also very strange is how few students digest news either from the printed word or from the Internet

I cannot say that I find this too strange and neither that the attitude hasn't changed since my days of journalism studies at Stockholm university. It is all about the status. It is the paper edition that carries the status and the notion of the fixed and protected career for the journalist. The e-publication is seen as the hallmark of the unsafe existence of the freelancer or worse of the hobby hack pajaheddin. Until we see more dedicated and even more business-like cyberzines in Europe the trend will continue.

I definitely want to hear more about this topic before I say anything.

My own attitude as a student generally is that I want to be instantly published, and I want an audience that I can be in dialogue with. The new tools are everything for me.

But then again, I haven't really thought about this stuff as regards a job or livelihood. I look at it as something more important, which is finding a community.

I think this has much to do with the students wanting to work as journalists, and the media are vastly different when it comes to this. While the paper edition of VG is hardly the height of sophisticated analysis in most areas, at least they have a fair number of journalists covering the issues the editors choose to cover.
The online edition, however, is mostly cut and paste and retelling of gossip stories and urban legends, not much of a journalistic challenge.

If you were discussing the online and paper versions of Aftenposten, it would be a different story.

- Thanks for many good comments in my abscence.

Knut Albert: I think the situation even for the online tabloids is more mixed than that. Look at Dagbladets online travel section for instance, they produce some really good travel stories on par with anything you read in print. Because online media still is in such a huge transition, I also think there's a lot of room for influencing the direction and output even for online tabloids.

That said, this part of the media has a lot to perfect, but that is partly what makes it so interesting. Besides, online media is 24/7 and the drive for content is enormous, so should be lots of opportunity for ambtious young journalists. But of course, it requires more speed than print as you're effectively competing with broadcasters.

Nigel and Waldemar: this rings true of my experinces from journo school as well. Some of the students seemed to see journalism as a ticket to fame, that was their main motivation for being there, and in today's celebrity obsessed culture fame is just something that happens to you, isn't it, doesn't require effort, at least that was what these students seemed to think.

I would think these unrealistic expectations would be particularly appareant and strange to meet as mature student doing a bachelors degree. I did a postgraduate degree, so assume I was spared some of the most immature attitutes, but some attituteds still shocked me.

Ashok: seems like you have the right attitute for the new online environment, unfortunately that attitude is very foreign to many old media editors. I must say that I sometimes think that blogging has made it very difficult for me to function as a print journalist: whenever I write for print, especially features and op eds, I get so frustrated with how long it takes before the piece appears in print, I almost feel like my argument has become redundant by the time it does, because online the debate has certainly moved on. Spend too much time online and you get addicted to the speed, the immediacy and the instant feedback..

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