Journalism climate changes

By By Anne Baker, News Staff

When the Boston Globe announced last week it was the latest paper facing a serious possibility of being shut down by its parent company, the New York Times Co., many New Englanders wondered what life would be like without their longstanding newspaper of record.
But some Northeastern students wondered something different:’ ‘ What would happen to the school’s journalism program without the Globe?
‘I was devastated. I was horrified,’ said middler journalism major and former Globe co-op Jenny Gardner. ‘I was shocked and really upset. Being a student and being at the Globe, I’ve learned so much and it’s become a place that I love and I value, and I can’t imagine a world without the Boston Globe.’
The New York Times Co. threatened to close the paper unless the unions agree to $20 million in concessions by the beginning of May, according to Globe articles. But several Northeastern professors said it is unlikely the Globe would fold.
‘First off, I doubt that the Globe will go out of business,’ said former Globe Metro editor and head of the Globe Spotlight team Walter Robinson, who is currently a distinguished professor at Northeastern. ‘I mean, there is a chance that the paper will not survive, but that’s hard to imagine when you have a company that has between $300 and $400 million in revenue; there is a way to make that profitable. I mean, it’s a painful way, but I don’t think the paper will disappear.’
However, Gardner said the possibility of the Globe closing or cutting back co-op jobs could force Northeastern’s journalism program to focus more heavily on new media.’ Changes in print media and the advent of the Internet have not had enough emphasis in her education, Gardner said.
But Stephen Burgard, director of the School of Journalism, said the school has made many alterations to its curriculum in the last few years to reflect the changes in media, including an online journalism course and adding new media aspects to preexisting journalism courses.
‘The program is always looking at its offerings and considering what’s appropriate and what needs to be changed,’ he said. ‘Even within the core courses that have been offered for a very long time, we’re looking at how [journalism is] changing.’
Burgard said the school is also in the process of developing a new minor in conjunction with the Creative Industries Initiative at Northeastern called Interactive Media. The minor would focus on digital media and would primarily be for journalism students, he said.
Freshman journalism major Lucas Schoeppener said the changes in media are a principal topic in his classes.
‘It’s talked about a lot how the landscape of journalism is changing,’ he said. ‘They’re trying to incorporate a little bit more of multimedia in class.’
Online journalism professor and media critic Dan Kennedy said the greatest challenge for the department has been to teach students skills that will be valuable in the years to come, because no one knows exactly what the future will bring for the media.
‘It’s not entirely clear where journalism is going and doing. Therefore, to say, ‘we ought to be teaching skills XYZ and we’re not,’ I think, misunderstands the challenge, because we just don’t know exactly what skills will be needed,’ Kennedy said.
And while new media skills ‘- like blogging, knowledge of Internet code and video editing ‘- are important, there are still basic tenets of journalism that will never change,’ Robinson said.
‘If you can do video and audio, you’ll still be a terrible journalist if you don’t know how to ask questions, if you don’t understand your subject matter, if you don’t know how to dig out info people don’t want you to have and you don’t know how to communicate it in written form,’ Robinson said.

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