Saturday, January 17, 2009

Columbia University: Sree Sreenivasan

Today, every journalists should have a new media skill set, but more importantly, a new media mindset, new media expert and Columbia University professor Sree Sreenivasan told students.

Columbia University's Journalism School was founded by Joseph Pulitzer, who desired to professionalize journalism. At the time, other schools rejected his offer, thinking journalism was a trade profession like plumbing.

Today, there are journalism schools across the country and now Columbia offers new media courses and has been since 1994. Change has always been a part of journalism, Sreenivasan said. Sreenivasan, who has been teaching at Columbia for 16 years, says the program focuses on teaching students how to apply new media tools and think about them, rather than just how to use them.

Sreenivasan said journalists need to develop four mindsets in thinking about new media:
  1. Acknowledge that the audiences knows a lot, often more than you, and harness that energy.
  2. Realize you can learn about what’s going on from anywhere, not just traditional media outlets.
  3. Recognized that there are more effective ways of doing what we do.
  4. Realize you only have the start of a story and think about different formats

Sreenivasan also provided a list of new media tools journalists should learn:
-How to write in 140 characters (i.e. Twitter)
-Simple video editing
-Capture really good audio
-A little Flash
-Programs available on the web for editing, hosting your work, and broadcasting

To figure out which tools to use, journalists should figure out what works and is effective for them and should find someone to follow and guide them along the way, Sreenivasan said.

Journalists today who capitalize on all of these skills are “tra-digital journalists” – they have all the skills of traditional journalists but also the digital tools and know-how. Journalists who have both will be the ones with careers in the field, he said.

“Those who are successful not just work the hardest, but work the smartest,” Sreenivasan said.

Journalists need to learn how to promote their work and manage their online brand. This can be measured by “ego surfing,” or doing a Google search of your name, Sreenivasan said.

Despite his interest in new media, Sreenivasan still has a love for print.

“I think there’s something magical about print,” Sreenivasan said. “I think it will be around.”

News organizations can capitalize on new media by setting up “skunk works” – sending out a few people to incubate a project and see if it works before putting it into place. Traditional news media are not the only ones affected by the Internet age.

“If you think journalism is in trouble, compare it to the record industry,” Sreenivasan said. “The problem isn’t with the music, the problem is with the business model.”

Want more from Sreenivasan? Here are some online tools and links he shared with the group that are worth checking out:

-On Twitter: Themediaisdying
-Regret the Error
-Sprout Builder

-Derek Casanovas and Jasmine Linabary

Want to hear more from Sreenivasan? Check out the video below:

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