Posted in journalism, multimedia journalist, News

Required? Required.

By Bliss Davis, Multimedia Journalist

Editor’s note: The Digital Journalism Task Force is joining with Knowledgewebb for a FREE webinar: 10 Steps to a Tech-Savvy You TODAY from  2:00-2:45 pm EST.  This webinar will outline the 10 steps — and critical websites, social networks and gear — to help you become more tech savvy. You’ll get complete notes as well as a primer on how to manage information overload.  The webinar is free, but you must register to attend. I hope you can join us!

I recently read an article about a private school in Tennessee that’s requiring students in grades 4-12 use an Apple iPad for class. This reminded me of several newsrooms I’ve heard about recently that are doing away with hard copy scripts and turning to iPads.

This sparked a debate at work about how much or little we need technology to function. A minimalist anchor bragged about his Motorola Razr and a meteorologist said she would be lost without her Apple iPhone 4. Regardless, based on the list of requirements for my own entry-level journalist job (a cell phone being one of them), communication is essential in an industry that’s centered on…communicating.

Now having a phone hasn’t done much for me, except be a mode through which my boss calls me in as needed, but in terms of our whole newsroom we got a look at how those with phones–specifically smartphones–won on January 24.

On my usual morning shift, shortly after our broadcast, our assignment desk suddenly got a lot louder than normal. For those in broadcast, you know exactly what I mean. Reports started coming in about several houses blowing up, with people calling in about major fires and the heavy smell of gas in the area.

Being too early to have our entire photog team in yet, they had to send anyone with a means of video recording any way they could. As a result, we were the first on the scene and the first with first-hand accounts of what was happening.  One of our own came back smelling terrible, but he got what he needed! He used his iPhone 4 and BlackBerry, and the anchor with the Razr had to admit he wouldn’t have gotten as far as our reporter did with his phone.

What our photog did wasn’t extraordinary in terms of how he used technology—it is 2011 after all—but it did speak to the faithful few who are holding on to older technologies. While we had the resources to be first with that story, we also could have just as easily been last.  Even the bare minimum can leave you out in the cold.

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Home of the National Association of Black Journalists's (NABJ's) Digital Journalism Task Force

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