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Advice to young journalists: learn multimedia, languages

Multimedia

Spain's traditional media, like those in the U.S., have experienced devastating declines in revenues and have cut staff ruthlessly.

In an interview with with the Spanish website LaInformacion.com, Juan Antonio Giner, co-founder of Innovation Media Consulting, shared some of his strong opinions about how young journalists and traditional media should confront the challenge from digital media. Some translated excerpts from that interview follow.

What advice do you have for young journalists who want to make a decent living practicing their chosen craft?

Giner: The job market is limited, and for that reason there will never be work for everyone everywhere and in all media. Competition today is fierce, and that is a good thing. The only ones who will find work are those who are the best trained, who have acquired the most knowledge, who have mastered telling stories with multimedia, who speak more than one language, and, above all, who want to take on the world. This is a profession for people with passion, with fight, who are undaunted, relentless.

Should journalists tell their readers about mistakes their bosses have made or should they be loyal to the news organization?

Giner: Journalists are suffering unreasonably in many businesses run by truly incompetent people: people who fancied themselves brilliant during the boom years and who now have no other ideas than to cut and cut without realizing that in a crisis you have to invest. Journalists should be loyal to their organization of course, but above all they should be loyal to their readers. I think that in many cases they have the right and the obligation to publicly denounce these horrible mistakes.

Free online content and the advertising crisis have hit newspaper organizations hard. PRISA is the latest example it has laid off 2,500 employees at its media outlets worldwide and is struggling with 3.5 billion euros in debt. What is the best strategy for getting out of this swamp?

Giner: The best strategy has always been to invest in journalistic talent. You can't make chocolate without cacao. The publishing industry has always been in poor health. We we have always been in crisis. Gutenberg ended up going bankrupt. But we are an indomitable breed, so although we are a race in danger of extinction, Journalism with a capital J will never disappear. The means and techniques may change but not the essentials. Those who always survive are those who adapt to the new trends: the innovators.

This post originally appeared on the blog News Entrepreneurs and appears on IJNet with permission.

James Breiner is co-director of the Global Business Journalism Program at Tsinghua University. He is a former Knight International Journalism Fellow who launched and directed the Center for Digital Journalism at the University of Guadalajara. He is bilingual in Spanish and English and is a consultant in online journalism and leadership.

CC-licensed photo on Flickr courtesy of noodlepie

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