Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Changing Platforms

(Oops, I accidentally disappeared this a couple of days ago)

So, as I was saying, I've left the newspaper world but not the news biz. I'm working as a freelancer with college students as part of a TV/Web news program. The operation has bureaus at five universities. Most are broadcast journalism students but a handful are print people so what's required of those of us working on the site isn't all that different from what we did at newspapers.

The newsroom has both old, familiar tools, energy, hunger for the news, and some new (to me) terminology, extra interest in the visual and a great, great emphasis on the immediate, which grows out of the merging of TV and Web demands, I think. There are enough TVs and other technology to fill every home in the U.S., I suspect. There are also enormous numbers of really smart people working here in jobs with little or no equivalent in most newspaper newsrooms.

And, the working lingo is sometimes different and fun. There are a couple of people, who if they're busy when you have a question, reply, "Stand by" instead of "hang on a second" or other phrases. Video reports seem terribly more complicated than text equivalents.

And every single bit of work seems to involve at least six people because of multiple platforms and legal/standards issues, which is not to criticize but rather just point out the differences in work style. It's very collegial, so most people are genuinely quite nice or at a minimum, try to work well with others. I heard someone yesterday complain about a former employee this way, "But he wasn't a team player!" in tones usually reserved for matricidal sons.

Except for the almost four-hour-a-day commute every day, it's a great job, very, very busy but exciting at the same time and an eye-opener about how other news operations work.

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