Thursday, January 15, 2009

Associated Press: Michael Oreskes and Robert Naylor

A lot of people struggle with change – but it’s inevitable, Associated Press editors told students.

The Associated Press, a non-profit newspaper wire service and co-op, is one of the oldest and largest news organizations in the world, dating back to newspapers sharing resources in the Spanish-American War. Today, Yahoo! Is one of the biggest clients, giving more money to the AP than most newspapers combined.

To service news organizations, AP employs more than 3,500 people who report the news in five languages to participating organizations around the globe.

Michael Oreskes

While the fundamental underpinnings of the industry are changing, the desire for journalism is not, said Michael Oreskes, managing editor for U.S. news. The AP is best situated to respond to the Internet age, as the organization has operated on a 24/7 news cycle and delivers news when it happens.

New distribution methods in the past have tended to exist alongside traditional media. Whether this will be the case with the Internet, which incorporates other mediums, is one of the big questions facing the industry, Oreskes said.

“The only change we can predict with absolute certainty is change itself,” Oreskes said.

The challenge is determining what is essential to journalism and what is just form, Oreskes said. For example, the inverted pyramid was the result of technological revolutions to the point that competition among newspapers necessitated finding ways to draw readers in. Traits like honesty, credibility and accuracy are those that need to be preserved, Oreskes said.

“Look hard at what you need to do and try to make the changes you need to make,” Oreskes said. “We’re not there. We’ve got a lot of work to do ourselves.”

The AP is currently taking a hard look at what can be done with video and figuring out what can be accomplished practically with the available people and resources, Oreskes said.

Robert Naylor

Robert Naylor, director of career development in news, deals with leadership and management development in the newsroom, a unique position among news organizations that is used to help groom people for jobs and manage the newsroom more efficiently.

Naylor, with a background in print journalism, said critical thinking, good writing and research skills remain the most critical skills journalists can possess. In his own career, Naylor said the technical skills he had helped set him apart when he was entering the field and suggested that the same would be true for today’s students. He said if he was a student today he would seek to build as broad a skill set as possible.

Naylor predicted that an appetite for news and information will continue to exist and grow with new players and platforms. He suggests that newspapers will become smaller, more specialized and fewer in number.

“The biggest challenge is figuring out what the audience wants, how they want it presented and how we can make money off of it,” Naylor said.

-Derek Casanovas and Jasmine Linabary

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