Monday, June 28, 2010

College Newspaper and TV Newsrooms Merge

The seismic shift in news media has begun to reshape journalism schools. The University of Kansas has merged the newsrooms of its student newspaper and television station. The University Daily Kansan will move into a newsroom where KUJH-TV studio is located.

A cynic will say that now the TV people won't have to go as far to get story ideas from the paper.

KU says in a news release that the merger will "provide journalism students with greater opportunities to tell their stories more dynamically across print, broadcast, online and new and emerging media."

In other words, the TV people won't be going to get stories from the paper because they'll be the ones writing stories for the paper. And the newspaper reporters will be producing stories for TV.

"The students will benefit from learning in a true multimedia environment," said Terry Bryant, lecturer in journalism and media lab manager. "The variety of skills they master will serve them well when they become professional journalists after graduating from KU."

If the students think this is theoretical, heretical or just radical, they should take a look at WFLA-TV and the Tampa Tribune, Media General-owned outlets which operate from a single newsroom with reporters and photographers shared between the two media.

WFLA-TV photographers have been given Nikon DSLR still cameras with which they shoot photos for the Tribune. More than occasionally, photographers will write and narrate their own TV stories. Newspaper reporters turn stories for TV. TV reporters write for the paper.

Convergence is not just a crazy idea in some bean counter's head somewhere. The debate about whether this should happen is moot. More and more large market TV stations are hiring what they call multi-media journalists — those who shoot their own stories and tap out a text version for the station's web site while they're at it.

If that's the real world, it's good to see journalism schools begin to prepare students for what they're in for when they get there.

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