Did someone say baby and bath water?

Steve Yelvington has bravely waded into the whole John Lavine anonymous source debacle, you can read his post here.

He may well have one thing right, there are probably other agendas at play here and they all centre around what direction Lavine wants to take Medill.

However I feel Steve Yelvington is being too harsh on Medill’s students and faculty.

I think the angry faculty who are fighting change need to step out of their comfort zones and take a really hard look at their assumptions, their motives, and their own skill sets. In the future we need great editors who can act as — gasp — the chief marketing officers, content strategists, and product leaders of their journalistic organizations. This will require a mastery of tools and techniques not taught in a 1970-style reporting and editing course.

I certainly believe we must change and adapt as journalist, but lets not forget what it is fundamentally about: reporting and investigating, producing accurate stories, being aware of the audience you are writing for.

The tools and techniques that were right for the 1970s are right for the current day and most likely for 2025 too. But what will change is distribution and delivery method and range of roles we will be taking on.

As I commented on his blog:

I do question whether the shift (when we reach 2025) will be that big. Of course we need to be more conscious of our audience, but many of the basic principles of journalism will remain the same. Reporting and editing will still be the backbone of that, but the packaging and approach will most certainly change. We will have to become a lot more flexible and be able to do much more: write copy, edit it, take photos, shoot video, record audio, update websites, write headlines, write blurbs, design graphics and much more. In the short year I spent in Medill (Lavine took over about six months into that time) I learned how to do many of these things and in my current job I am learning to do several more.

Lets all not get carried away with the obvious changes that digital platforms offer us. They are powerful tools, but the basics of journalism are constant.

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