SPJ.org: Where you can learn new skills on the cheap

More journalists seriously need to come to terms with the times, and SPJ’s dynamic Web site can help them do so.

Given the news industry’s rapidly changing economic dynamics, it is vitally important for all of us to learn new ways to gather and distribute information. Why anyone would wait around for his or her employer to provide or pay for such training confounds me. At the same time, I recognize that college courses may not be an option and that there may be few (if any) opportunities to put new skills into practice in many newsrooms (which I would consider a sign that it’s time to look for work elsewhere …).

That’s where SPJ.org comes in. Let this Web site be your training ground. (This is, by the way, a goal for SPJ I long have shared with Society stalwart and j-visionary Stephen Rynkiewicz, a producer for ChicagoTribune.com.)

While we newsies are always likely to have have our specialties — some of us will write better than we yammer on camera, others of us will have great voices for streaming audio but loathe the precision required of newswriting — we need to think of ourselves as gatherers and distributors of information across media. Not as “newspaper” and “radio” reporters, not as “TV” producers, not as “print” photographers or television “videographers.” Not as the “online staff.”

Like it or not, technology is shattering those distinctions. Smart news organizations recognize this (well, they’ve been darned slow to recognize this, but that’s another story …) and are reorganizing accordingly. Journalists either will embrace these changes and do everything in their power to uphold the integrity of good journalism as they do — or they will play the role of obstructionist and, eventually, find themselves out of a job.

During my SPJ travels, I have urged journalists repeatedly to learn how to present stories across media. I don’t care how small the market is. If you don’t already know how to use various tech tools to present your writing, gather audio and video and solicit feedback from readers/viewers/listenters, you better learn fast. I’m talking yesterday …

And if you’ve got a command of the tech, but have never needed to pay as much attention to your reporting and writing (AP Style and spelling matter!), go back and sharpen those skills immediately.

The news industry is changing fast largely because of consumers’ shifting habits. And savvy news consumers don’t care that some journalists love lights and cameras, while others pride themselves in being ink-stained wretches or tech geeks. They want information — trustworthy, reliable information gathered with integrity by experienced journalists — and they want it on their terms. They want the news in the formats and times of their choice.

So, if you’re looking for an opportunity to try your hand at some of these new skills, this is the place. That’s what SPJ.org is all about these days. Contribute to the Web site in countless ways. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Blog. We’re looking for contributors to the blogs we’ve already launched and are willing to entertain proposals for new ones.
  • Write a story, and support it with the audio, video or digital photos you’ve captured.
  • Craft some sort of useful instruction or essay. Our veteran-journalist members will edit with hopes that your reporting and writing improve.
  • Be animated. Develop some sort of presentation in Flash, and we’ll consider displaying it to the world.
  • Build a valuable tool. Want to learn how to construct a database or to manipulate digital spreadsheets? Boy, do we have a project ideas for you …

Contact Quill Editor Joe Skeel at jskeel@spj.org to see how you might pitch in and learn in the process.

One more thing to note: Your contributions to this Web site will help not only you — but also thousands of other journalists.

Defending the First Amendment and promoting open government are more crucial now than ever. Join SPJ's fight for the public’s right to know — either as an SPJ Supporter or a professional, student or retired journalist.


Twitter Facebook Google Plus RSS Instagram Pinterest Pinterest LinkedIn

© Society of Professional Journalists. All rights reserved. Legal

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center, 3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208
317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789 | Contact SPJ Headquarters | Employment Opportunities | Advertise with SPJ