Monthly Archives: March 2007

What employers (should) look for in fresh recruits

This is the time of the year when journalism students start packing up, start interning, start applying for jobs, and start praying. In the days and weeks to come, they will meet an unknown, unfathomable monster called “HR”. What do employers look for from fresh recruits?

A neat CV, nice references, good clippings will help, of course. Paul Conley says he looks for these three traits. (Indian media HR is not so nuanced or advanced, but any student journalist who has these should be surprised if she doesn’t get a leg up the media ladder quickly.)

1) Youth itself: Young people who send messages via PDA, have a Facebook account, MySpace page, and have blogs about local bands, and know how to use bookmarks.

2) Self-taught expertise: “I’m thrilled by someone who taught himself Dreamweaver, whereas I’m not so impressed by someone who took a course in PhotoShop.”

3) Entrepreneurial spirit: Someone who hired me was surprised… “I had helped publish a fanzine about music in New York, and had been paid $15 a week while a student to type up sport scores from my school and walk them over to a local paper.”

Also see: More employers want to find you on the web

85% newspaper editors hopeful of the future

The vast majority of newspaper editors world-wide are optimistic about the future of their newspapers, according to a new global survey released today that provides an insider’s view to newsroom attitudes and strategies.

The “Newsroom Barometer,” conducted by Zogby International for the Paris-based World Editors Forum and Reuters, found that 85 per cent of editors are very optimistic or somewhat optimistic about the future of their newspapers.

The survey found that:

# 40 per cent of editors believe on-line will be the most common way to read the news ten years from now;

# 35 per cent believe print will reign supreme;

# two-thirds believe opinion and analysis pages will grow in importance;

# half are convinced that the quality of journalism will improve;

# half believe that shareholders and advertisers present threats to editorial independence.

The survey of 435 editors-in-chief, deputy editors and other senior news executives from around the world, and of whom half are from Europe, provides a picture of an industry in transition, but one that is rapidly adapting to the new media environment.

“Eighty-five per cent of senior news executives see a rosy future for their newspaper, and it’s quite a surprise,” said Bertrand Pecquerie, Director of the World Editors Forum (WEF), the organisation of the World Association of
Newspapers that represents senior newsroom personnel.

“Editors recognize competition from online sources and free papers, and in turn are making efforts to adapt to 21st century readership,” he said. “They know how to effectively make the transition to online journalism without reducing editorial quality. Editors-in-chief realise that content matters more than ever and cutting newsroom resources is not at all an effective solution: the reshaping of news will take place with journalists, rather than at their expense.”

Monique Villa, Managing Director of Reuters Media, said: “The Newsroom Barometer survey reveals an industry ready and willing to face dramatic change. Training journalists in new media skills has emerged as the most
popular method for senior editors to increase editorial quality in their newsrooms, and 51 per cent believe that the general quality of journalism will improve over the next decade.”

This optimism builds on deep changes in the way news is consumed. Many editors view news as a ‘conversation’ with readers rather than a ‘lecture’ from journalists, and the perceived increase in the importance of analysis and opinion pages shows newspaper editors realize that they must change their content offering in order to survive and prosper,” Villa added.

The results of the Newsroom Barometer survey, released at a news conference at Reuters headquarters in London today, are contained in Trends in Newsrooms 2007, the annual WEF report on the latest editorial developments
from around the world.

The Newsroom Barometer, a partnership among WEF, Zogby and Reuters, will be conducted annually to assess changes in attitudes and strategies in newsrooms around
the world.

The survey found:

# An overwhelming number of respondents—85 percent—say they are very optimistic or somewhat optimistic about the future of their newspaper. Even among newspapers whose circulation decreased over the past five years, 80 per cent of respondents remain optimistic.

# Forty per cent of editors and news executives believe online will be the most common platform for news ten years into the future, while 35 per cent believe in print’s supremacy. One in ten say mobile devices will be the most common platform, while 7 per cent cite e-paper. And two out of 10 respondents say it will be technologies that are still in the emerging stage.

# Half the respondents believe that journalistic quality will improve over the next 10 years, versus one-quarter who think it will worsen.

# Eight in ten respondents view online and new media as a welcome addition.

Those with high volume web traffic—more than 200,000 unique visitors per day—are more likely to view new media positively, but the majority of editors at newspapers with modest traffic or no web sites also viewed new media positively.

# Three in ten respondents view free newspapers as a threat to the market, while the majority take a more benign view—34 per cent view them as a welcome addition, and 28 percent consider them negligible. Smaller newspapers are more likely to see free papers as a threat than larger newspapers, perhaps because larger newspapers have the resources to fight off free paper competition, as well as produce their own free papers.

#Respondents are almost evenly split over whether they think that the majority of news, both print and online, will be free in the future.

# Three-quarters of respondents view the trends toward increased interactivity between news organisations and their readers as positive for quality journalism, while only 8 percent take the negative view.

# Fifty-four percent of editors think shareholders and advertisers pose the principal threat in the future to editorial independence of newspapers.

Nineteen percent of respondents, mostly from the developing world, cite political pressure as the main threat.

# Two-thirds of respondents say that the number of opinion and analysis pages will increase in coming years.

# Training journalists in new media is cited most often by editors as a priority to increase editorial quality. Hiring more journalists is the second most frequently cited priority.

435 respondents participated in the Newsroom Barometer, which was conducted between October 8 and December 7, 2006.

Full details of the survey can be found at

More on the Trends in Newsroom report at

Wanted: Contributions on Anything & Everything

JAVIER MARTI writes: is a community of amateur writers writing about The Future of Everything. Join us and write an article on anything you are passionate about. Perhaps even “The Future of Newspapers”, if you are a journalist, student journalist or citizen journalist!

If you own a blog or a site, you can get a link back when you link to your own article, if you wish. You can even re-use some of your already published material. That would save you time and still be interesting for readers.

Yes, I know you may not have the time. Theoretically, none of us do. If so, if you like the project and you can help us spread the word—even if you don’t write—-it would be great. Since we are starting, any help is appreciated.

By making this valuable information available online for free, I truly believe we are helping to make the world a better place. And you could do your bit for the world too, by sharing what you know, as we already do.

The guest shouldn’t be god in the newsroom

“Guest editing” is catching on like a virus in Indian media in the name of making journalism more exciting and reader-friendly. One day, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is dropping his pearls of wisdom in the editor’s chamber. Another day, actress Ramya is giving newsrooms an oomphy look. And on a third, actor Vishnuvardhan is going out with a mike and notebook to interview people.

Presidents, industrialists, Nobel Prize winners, politicians, wicket-keepers… all have sat in the editor’s chair in the year gone by. This may be a welcome of spot of humility the media can muster, that anybody, not just editors and journalists, can bring out a paper. But is it any more than cheap Atithi Devo Bhava (the guest is god)?

Rem Reider, senior vice-president of the American Journalism Review, calls them the unwelcome guests. Guest-editing, he says, is a buzz-inducing gimmick that should be returned to its rightful home in Oblivion.

“I’m all for the notion of openness, of citizen voices, of listening to new thinking and new approaches. There’s no doubt journalism needs them in abundance in these wrenching times. But the ultimate decision-making needs to rest with the journalists. To do anything else is a mammoth abrogation of responsibility.”

Read the full article: An unwelcome guest

Related link: Los Angeles scraps guest editor program

The shifting ground beneath our laden feet

The old media in India has still to come to terms with participatory media, user-generated content, newsroom blogs, etcetera. But in the US of A, where falling circulations  and plunging reader interest have resulted in introspection of the obscene kind, the traditional media is wrestling with the new world that we never thought would dawn so quickly and sink us even quicker, 24 X 7.

In this YouTube video, Phil Shapiro does a hilarious take on why the New York Times changed its font size and why the Washington Post has increased the number of letters to the editor from four to—yes!—five.

Link via Innovation in College Media

‘Silence is the most overrated virtue’

For decades she has had the honour of asking the first question at White House press conferences. Now, Helen Thomas, the grand old dame of Washington journalism, answers the Proust Questionnaire in this month’s Vanity Fair.

What is your motto?

Know when you are happy. Know yourself. Know your enemy. Ask not for whom the bell tolls.

The exceptional beauty among the beasts

The stereotypical image of the journalist—at least the male Indian one—is of a paunchy beast bred on cheap liquor, with dark lines under the eyes, stained teeth, nasal hairs (!), who may or not have a scraggy beard, with no dress sense or social graces. (Yes, there are exceptions but they quickly shift to television, PR or corporate communications, which sometimes can be the same thing.)

How lovely, therefore, to read Rachel Smith, a 21-year-old journalist with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from Belmont University, has been crowned Miss USA 2007. Rachel who works in Oprah Winfrey‘s company, Harpo Productions, was Miss Teen USA in 2002.

‘The future of newspapers isn’t in print’

Robert Scoble has seen the future and he says it isn’t in print. His son, he says, will neither subscribe to, nor read, a newspaper.

“The industry has NOT invested in its future. It is reaping the rewards of that. How many future journalists are being trained for the online world? I can tell you how many: zero.”

Maybe, but is this necessarily true in the Indian context?

Read the full article here: Newspapers are dead…

Why can’t All India Radio be like this?

The first thing that strikes you as you read ‘Listening to America’, a 1995 compilation of pieces carried by America’s National Public Radio on its wonderful programme, All Things Considered, is the yawning gap between public broadcasting there and here.

Just what is it, you wonder, that enables tax payers’ money to be used so differently and so elevatingly, and why are we stuck with the disgrace called Doordarshan and its slightly better brother All India Radio, but which too is trying desperately to go the same way.

In his foreword, NPR news vice president Bill Buzenberg offers six general reasons why “our” brand of public radio journalism has succeeded. And just reading them is enough to give goose pimples to anybody interested in the J-word, it doesn’t matter if you are employed in  radio, TV, newspapers, or the web.


1) Time for in-depth reporting: NPR listeners get a comprehensive look at the world’s news, every day, and whatever time of day the news is breaking. And they get the history, context, and analysis citizens need to make sense of issues, idea, and events. NPR devotes extra airtime to our reports to make them more than headline summaries. Oversimplification is a disease of modern broadcasting. But NPR programmes are meaningful because they have time to convey meaning. A two-hour NPR newsmagazine, such as Morning Edition, has almost two full hours of news and features. The average report on NPR is four to five minutes long. Taped interviews can be as long as needed for a coherent conversation, and taped remarks can express a complete thought.

2) Good writing and editing: Writing for the ear is everything in radio. A strong narrative line carries a good story and makes for compelling listening. News reports and features on NPR newsmagazines are written and edited and often rewritten and reedited, giving the programmes a lucid, literate sound. It is clear to the audience that language is used carefully. When it is not, we get bags of letters.

What counts most when NPR hires a new reporter or seeks a new host is what he or she knows and how well he or she writes. Although many NPR reporters and hosts have become “stars”, we are not in the business of creating a personality cult around a fresh face or hairdo. NPR asks a different question: What does this reporter have to say and how well can he or she say it?

3) Content and standards: Entertainment values influence much of the media today. Bill Kovach, curator of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard, has pointed out that entertainment values lead to sensationalism, hype, brevity, conflict, immediacy, and oversimplification. Public radio, by comparison, puts content at the centre of its value system. NPR has been described as radio with soul; we care about society and democracy. We assume the audience is intelligent and that they care, too, about making our diverse and democratic polity function better. NPR reporting can also be entertaining, but there is a seriousness of purpose in most of what we do. Public radio listeners do not expect to hear tabloid-type stories on the air. We seldom go live from the latest murder trial. We have been happy to let others sensationalise. A major media survey recently gave credit to NPR as the leading institution setting standards in American journalism. That aspect of NPR News is perhaps one of the greatest legacies of these 25 years.

4) Authentic voices and the human experience: Talking with all kinds of people, the ordinary and the powerful, is one of the things NPR does best. We have also found our own authentic voices and made them commentators. News by its very nature cannot all be good. But NPR programs are leavened with positive stories and profiles of remarkable people who are portrayed with their human frailties, as well as their courage and indomitable persistence.

The first NPR mission and goals statement, written in 1970, says the network will speak in many voices and dialects and “will regard individual differences with respect and joy rather than derision and hate; it will celebrate the human experience as infinitely varied rather than vacuous and banal; it will encourage a sense of active participation, rather than apathetic helplessness.”

5. The advantage of radio: Television is certainly the dominant medium, but as a medium for ideas, discussion important issues or suggesting solutions, radio cannot be beat. Great writing coupled with imaginative use of sound production can be more powerful than a picture. When skilfully done, a radio piece can trigger our imaginations and create vivid, long-lasting impression and images.

6. Public service: Perhaps NPR’s greatest distinction springs from it basic purpose. NPR still seeks to educate at the highest level of understanding, providing important information that a democracy needs to survive. Public radio addresses “listeners as citizens and individuals, not as consumers. We create programing to serve the public and we aspire to see our audience grow. But we do not view our audience as a marketable commodity” according to our new guide on journalistic standards. In other words, NPR programming is not viewed as a profit centre, and our style of radio journalism is not designed primarily to bring a mass audience to hear an advertiser’s message.


NPR Worldwide, a service of NPR, can be heard 24 hours a day in India on the Worldspace Satellite Radio Network, Channel 301