Traditional Concepts Most Important to Online Journalists

July 10th, 2008; 8:00 am by Ryan Thornburg

Once again in my survey of online journalists at North Carolina newspapers, we see a return to tradition. They say that news judgment and the ability to work under time pressure are the concepts that are most important to their jobs, while community management is far and away the least important of the 10 choices I gave them.

Also bringing up the rear of concepts that online journalists said were important to them: the ability to learn new technologies and awareness of new technologies.

And, interesting to note for those of us who teach students that it is more important to get it right than to get it first, the online journalists in my survey said that ability to work under time pressures was more important than attention to detail. As a group, they gave deadlines a higher average importance than details. As individuals, 63 percent of the respondents ranked time pressure more important than accuracy.

Oy vey.

At this point in my analysis, I have to conclude that one of two things is happening here:

  1. EITHER There is wide disparity between the skills, duties and concepts that I personally think should be emphasized in online newsrooms and in the skills, duties and concepts that are perceived as the most prominent and/or important in actual online newsrooms at North Carolina newspapers.
  2. OR This survey is totally FUBAR. Perhaps I asked the wrong questions of the wrong people.

To help me sort this out, I’m going to turn to a panel of experts — both in survey methodology and in online newsroom leadership. And, of course, your comments below are always helpful.

Average Rankings of Concepts

  1. Time Pressure - 4.1
  2. Multitasking - 4.3
  3. Detail - 4.4
  4. News judgment - 4.4
  5. teamwork - 4.8
  6. learn new tech - 5.8
  7. web usability - 5.8
  8. interpersonal communication - 6.0
  9. aware new tech - 6.7
  10. online community management - 7.3

( Respondents were asked to rate these concepts from 1 to 10, in order of most important to least important.)

Most Popular Priority Ranking for Each Concept

1 - Time pressure, news judgment
3 - teamwork, detail
5 - communication, usability
6 - multitasking
8 - learn new tech
9 - aware new tech
10 - comm. management

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Related posts:

  1. Skills of Online Journalists Skew Traditional
  2. Online Journalists See Themselves in Traditional Fields; Could It Be the ‘Gannett Effect’?
  3. Journalism Education: Training the Trainers
  4. Duties of the Online Journalist: ‘Writers’ and ‘Trainers’
  5. Reaction: Survey of Online Journalists

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2 Responses to “Traditional Concepts Most Important to Online Journalists”

  1. steven e. streight aka pluperfecter Says:

    It takes some industries a long time to wake up and smell the coffin. MSM news sites still fail to link to external sources or have reader comments in the thread of specific articles.

    Whatever happened to crowd-sourcing?

    Pathetic Luddites with decreasing integrity since we Dan Ratherized them.

  2. Monica Guzman Says:

    I am a reporter at the Seattle P-I and I share your shock that journalists are not prioritizing community management and technological awareness. Along with a nose for news, reporters should be developing a nose for how best to tell the story. As for the conversation - well, thanks to the forums on the Internet, it’s becoming just as big an element in news comprehension as the news itself - not to mention our most powerful potential bridge between news and civic action. Cultivate the conversation and you will see results. That’s part of my mission at the P-I. Great post, and great survey. Hope your ideas spread.

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