Journalists can’t multitask

A very simple point struck me today when reading through my feeds.

Journalists can’t multi-task.

Or at least that’s what people would have you believe.

A print journalist can’t do good video and write well

A TV journalist can’t get report on a story and show you the real heart of it.

Of course that’s bollocks.

A journalist can do what they like.

It’s the mediums that tie you down.

8 Replies to “Journalists can’t multitask”

  1. Cliff,

    Thanks for linking in to the post. I thought I would leave a comment here as I couldn’t comment on your blog.

    I’m a fan of Dave’s work as well, and just to clarify, I wasn’t suggesting that Dave thinks that Journalists can’t multi-task. God, if anyone represents multitasking he does. Daves thinking aloud just chimed with my thinking on the attitude towards journo’s doing new things.

    But I would say that I don’t necessarily think that a "new breed of self contained Video Journalists" is the thing that is or should be worrying them. Defining anyone, including yourself as a VJ is just as limiting. Does that mean you don’t do words? Do still images have a less of an impact. No of course not and no one should tell you that you can’t.

    What’s wrong with being a journalist who uses video when the story needs it?


  2. A journalist can do what they like – as long as that multi-tasking falls under the rules laid out by the editor.

    It’s not always the journalists that are to blame for the one-track mind attitude referred to – it’s the ones in charge, often misinformed and slightly clueless, that set out the agenda.

    Given the opportunity, I believe most journalists would jump at the chance to push the boundaries a bit. In fact forget push, redefine boundaries. I know I would.

  3. I don’t blame the journalists for the one track mind.

    In some respects editors do control the capacity to push the boundaries but the change in landscape both professionally and technologically means that there are other directions for journo’s to push if they want.

    Don’t wait to be asked or told what you can or can’t do.

  4. Sure, a journalist can do what they like. But learning new skills is sadly often not at the top of the list when you’re always on deadline.

    The pressures of having to get a story in on time on a regular basis make journalists think in terms of what they know. If you’re a print journalist you know how to write a story and if the boss wants to put it on the web, so be it. But blogging about it, or restructuring it so that it flows better in a feed reader, that takes time. So you resist.

    If you’re a radio reporter, sure you can hand in a written transcript of the story, or put a podcast up on the website. But carrying a camera around to take pictures, well that’ll just weigh down your kit.

    It’s not necessarily the journalists, the editors, or the publications that limit reporters ability to move into new media. It’s all of the above.

    A colleague of mine is a photographer for a Philadelphia paper. He’s been asked to start carrying around a digital voice recorder and a microphone to do audio pieces for the paper’s website. He’s actually excited about this, and asked me for tips on producing radio. It was pretty refreshing to see someone interested in taking on new tasks in an effort to tell the story in a more complete way.

  5. I can’t disagree with any of that Brad.

    Im not saying that it is an expectation of a journalist that they do all of these things just that they can.

    When I hear a VJ saying that they are the only ones who can do this well or a print journo saying they are the only ones who can do that. It makes me fume. It suggests that because a person isnt a VJ or a PJ they can’t. It’s just not true.

    It’s one thing to recognise that you are too busy to ‘do’ everything – thats a real and difficult problem – but it isn’t made any easier when some idiot tells you that, even if you wanted to, you can’t.

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