Last Thursday i attended the news:rewired event, organized by the great Journalism.co.uk team. I have to say that the source of most of my excitment when i got to the London City University, where the conference was held, was the fact that i’d see in the flesh many of my twitter contacts. But it seems i’m 16 again and i’m not able to engage in a conversation at conference foyers. Being dead tired after a long day, in panic because i’m really late with my assignments for the MA and nearly broke doesn’t help, but i’m always good at finding excuses (you can hire me if you need someone for that). It was a good place to network in a more active way, and i failed. My charm doesn’t seem to work around here. But the presentations were good, the event had a main idea running throughout the day, and the crowd was diverse and knowledgeable about media, with different backgrounds and expertises. And that already made the event a winner.
Looking through my notes, i find some terrific quotes that by themselves define the spirit of the event. “Professor of chaos”, that’s how George Brock, Professor and Head of Journalism at London City University, defined himself. But big events in History are surrounded by chaos, and this one in news industry is no exception. Brock then said we had to be “spaghetti throwers”, which as a foreigner, looks like a great image to me. He then gave way to Kevin Marsh, editor of the BBC College of Journalism, that explained to the audience how the BBC made online the center of their news operation, in the biggest multimedia newsroom in the world. Marsh said the evolution process inside the newsroom was so fast they couldn’t even reflect on what was going on, and he took a great lesson out of that experience: “If you think you know the answer, it’s because you didn’t got the question.”
“Entrepreneurial journalism won’t replace big journalism” could sound like a statement against the main current at news:rewired, but it is a great warning for those who are getting the wrong picture about new media. Marsh defends multimedia skills will not suplant journalistic skills but “they suplement the core skills of journalism”. He said there’s no room for a PanMedia journalist, but for journalists with specific skills. We can think this is a step back in the new media philosophy, but i’m also joining this bandwagon. It’s good to know a bit about everything, but we need to be specialists in something. Kevin Marsh also left some good advices for journo students and pros:
-think like a journalist when you look at the skill set that you need;
-think about what you do well and how the new skills fit with the old ones;
-if the skill is not working for you, drop it.When you stop innovating you should move on.
And he reinforced these ideas by saying “Skills are means to an end”, we spend too much time talking about applications and not about what they can do. But if God is in the details, he gave a final warning: “Don’t lose sight of the big picture.”
The man is right. Check his keynote in full below.