Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

Hopeful voices on the future of news

Posted in Journalism by Adam Westbrook on March 11, 2010

“We have this passion, this drive to step into a field where things don’t look so hot…”

Students on the Poynter journalism Fellowship in the US are clearly pretty passionate about what they’re doing, about storytelling, and about the future of journalism.

Here’s a video they’ve made to raise funds for other students who wouldn’t be able to afford the costs of the course. As Tracy Boyer over at Innovative Interactivity (a former fellow herself) points out the music’s a bit hammy for most tastes, but still it’s great to hear some voices of people who really get it.

You can check out some of the fellows here: Greg Linch and McKenna Ewan.

Presentation: 5 new career paths for journalists

Posted in Journalism by Adam Westbrook on February 23, 2010

I’m busy working on a new e-book, to be released in May 2010, which I hope will be a big help to journalists everywhere.

In it, I’m revealing ten new ways for journalists to do what they love and make money, in the face of the digital revolution and the economic downturn. With fewer traditional jobs, and more journalism graduates than ever before, the maths just don’t add up.

So what can the next generation of journalists do? Think laterally and outside the box– which is exactly what the new book will be all about. I’ve delved into entrepreneurship, life design and tech; looked at how other people are exploiting the internet for profit – then applied it all to journalism.

Earlier this month I shared some of my early ideas with journalism students at Kingston University in London. Here’s a shortened version of the presentation I delivered, with five (OK, six!) of the ten new career ideas briefly explained.

The book will be packed with practical step-by-step guides to fulfilling them – make sure you subscribe to the blog (in the right hand sidebar) for updates!

UPDATE: It’s having trouble with slide #2 but the rest of the presentation is fine!

What should we teach tomorrow’s Journalism students?

Posted in Journalism by Adam Westbrook on November 4, 2009

I was invited yesterday to join other journalism lecturers from Kingston University and advise them about the future of journalism.

Wisely, they’re getting together now to think about what the media landscape might look like in five years time, and working out how to adjust their teaching accordingly.

We went through lots of different scenarios, and I highlighted some of the following, which I think will be important skills for the J-students of the future:

Entrepreneurial skills

Jeff Jarvis, Hannah Waldram and others have already written much more about this, and I put myself firmly in this camp. Jarvis says it plainly: “The future of news is entrepreneurial.”

The monetisation of journalism will come from journalists, young or otherwise, launching their own enterprises serving a demand from a specific audience. It might be hyperlocal, or it might be niche.

But to achieve this, students will need to be taught these business basics: how to launch a start-up, how to manage money, where to get investment. And even: what is a good business idea?

The future media landscape won’t consist of a few big giants, but many, far smaller, enterprises. And tomorrow’s journalists must be prepared for this.

Social-network skills

Next, I pushed journalism students need to be social-media mavens. It is not good enough to be aware of blogs and Twitter. Or even to have a rarely used account. Journalism students must be fully immersed in these platforms (and what follows them).

They need to understand how they can create a community around a specific topic.

They must have experienced the exhilarating feeling of getting a spike in blog readers when they publish good content.

And they must know how social media markets their work.

New technical skills

I’m talking video shooting and editing, basic photography and photo editing and website design. HTML and CSS would be ideal. Simply because other journalists will have these skills – and you can’t afford to be left behind.

Old journo skills

And here I mean good writing, good storytelling. We talked a lot about what separates a journalist from a citizen journalist. I think the answer is the ability to identify news, to source it, to find people…and to publish it into good content.

…and the drive

You can’t teach this to kids, but you can try to instill some enthusiasm. It is no longer good enough (in any walk of life, save I dunno, chemistry, engineering etc) to walk into a degree and hope to walk into a job. That attitude will earn you a McDonald’s badge and not much else. Students themselves must crave success, and as Hannah Waldram puts it: “get-up-and-go to take them through the difficulties and pressures of doing something on their own…”

The fact journalism course are looking to the future now is a small, but important step in the right direction. What skills would you put on the curriculum?

Disclaimer: I am a part-time lecturer in Video & Photojournalism at Kingston University.