What's happening?

Modern Journalism
06 Jul 2011
by Rhea Alton

When I first saw a journalist sitting in a council meeting with a tiny laptop I was shocked. A computer is not the tool of a reporter, a hack, an investigator……it is, and always has been, a pen (or pencil should it be raining) and a pad/journal/jotter etc

I knew times ‘were a changing’ but I didn’t want them to, I wanted to ensure that the traditional pen and paper continued on, long into the future, past my days as a journalist and way way beyond.

As I sit here writing a blog on my laptop with my dongle plugged in – despite the fact I have access to WiFi – checking any emails that may come in on my new Blackberry (which I upgraded to make sure I had a letter per key to make it easier to send stories and press releases) and cursing if the landline rings because I have to get up….I feel I may have lost my way.

Not that I do not rely heavily on my pad and paper – covering the crown court twice a week ensures dozens of jotters and biros are used regularly and my shorthand skills will never be lost, but I can’t say I wouldn’t be tempted to take the laptop to a meeting if I knew it wasn’t going to involve the need to take notes at 100 words per minute.

It can’t be a bad thing, moving with the times, staying abreast of modern issues……in fact it would be a poor PR company that did not embrace the power of the internet and social media in 2010.

However, I still believe that combining the old and the new by far outweighs going with one or the other.

It is fine having someone who knows a computer inside and out, speaks about megabytes and modems and frowns when you say typewriter but what do these people do when they are covering agricultural shows in the rain? At the times when only the pencil, the pad and the power of shorthand will do?

The need is for skills past and present and I am coming to terms with the balance. My training and past experience means I excel in some areas but not necessarily in others – although I try.

Sometimes you have to have help, which for me comes in the form of my brother Michael – known as Mike if you’re not his sister. He is my internet marketing consultant and if things get too technical I delegate.

Michael is the brains behind Schnipz Web Design and spends his spare time working on a mid-air interface prototypes… you’d have to ask him!!!!

I put the information together for my clients and do my thing with the media – the human ones – and Michael can do his thing with my information to the non-human media. I am well acquainted with the likes of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Linked-In and numerous other outlets but when it comes to “creating sites in HTML/CSS as well as within the WordPress CMS enabling the creation of sites that include blogs & syndication”………..I call Michael.

I think the best way forward is to play on my strengths and play on the strengths of others to ensure my clients get the best service. So anyway, back to it….I have a number of press releases to write and have to ring Michael to ask him how to change the font on a blog post when it changes because you have cut and copied something……pffft!