As the Editorial Director of the Knight Foundation, Michael Bolden gets a chance to see what’s happening in digital journalism a little earlier than the rest of us.
“The Knight Foundation is a great perch from which to see what’s going on in digital journalism,” he said. “We see a lot of things that people who are involved in daily journalism aren’t able to. It’s a privilege to work here.”
Bolden is running for a seat on the Online News Association’s board. He has been a member of ONA for four years and was in daily journalism as an editor for 22 years, most recently for the Washington Post. He was involved in that newspaper’s move to digital and saw the challenges that come when news organizations are publishing online.
But while there have been growing pains as news organizations and journalists themselves try to expand their reach into the online world, these are pains that must be endured to stay relevant, Bolden says.
“Journalists need to be involved in the digital world,” he said.
That belief permeates his agenda for ONA service.
If elected, Bolden hopes to help journalism educators by making sure that they have the most up to date information and tools possible to help their students prepare for a challenging job market. Helping newsrooms connect with new digital storytelling applications and the training to utilize them properly is also something he’s hoping to accomplish if elected.
But most of all, Bolden hopes to be a champion for diversifying the digital journalism pool as a member of ONA’s board. As it is in much of the news media, the representation of people of color in the digital media world is relatively small.
It’s a multifaceted problem, Bolden admits. One facet is the economics of journalism. Newsroom managers faced with dwindling bottom lines and pressure from corporate tend to sacrifice diversity and the variety of storytelling perspectives it provides when making cuts, he said.
But another reason why there isn’t much diversity in digital media is because, well, digital journalists, unlike businessmen, teachers and mailmen, aren’t necessarily the people in your neighborhood.
“It’s an issue of modeling,” Bolden said. “When you’re a first generation college student, you tend to look at the careers that the people before you have followed. You see teachers, lawyers and ministers. You don’t see a lot of computer scientists. It’s not seen as a viable option.”
Members in good standing of the Online News Association can vote until Nov. 1.