For some time, my nerdy passion has been obsessing over the future of journalism. I don’t tell too many people that I spend a good portion of my daily run thinking about what journalists will be expected to do in the future, and, because I major in business, how to make money from a product that is for some reason given away for free. But, I’ll admit here that I sometimes lose sleep planning out a journalism venture that I want to start after college.
Fortunately, I got a peek into what could be the duties of tomorrow’s journalist in a unique experience a few weeks ago.
I received an email from the editor of BuffStampede, a Rivals site — the premier place to find information about recruiting — asking if anyone at the Mustang Daily sports desk would be willing to freelance for him later that week. Seth Jacobs, a four-star linebacker from Arroyo Grande, was announcing where he planned to go to college and Colorado was in play.
This might not make an aerospace engineer slobber like I did, but imagine being asked, on a whim, to design a piece of a plane for Boeing. Just five or six hours of work and a check is in the mail the next day.
Needless to say, I was all over it.
On Wednesday I headed down to Arroyo Grande for the press conference with four crucial elements to the future of journalism: an iPhone (I don’t want to hear complaints from Android users, Apple products are simply far superior for reporters), a Mac laptop, a small digital video camera (I use a Flip camera and tripod) and a Nikon camera for capturing high quality images.
In my assignment, I was asked to provide an article, photos and video for an additional 25 bucks. Gone are the days that separate people from the same media outlet produce the writing, the pictures and the video.
I anticipate a day soon when my iPhone can completely replace the Nikon and the video camera, but the quality isn’t quite where we’d like it to be … for now. As Jacobs’ press conference neared, the editor of the Colorado Rivals site tweeted to his few thousand followers that I (@JJJenkins7) would be tweeting the announcement live and supplementing it with photos I took with my iPhone.
What I didn’t anticipate was my inbox exploding. With each new follower, and I gained about 100 in less than half an hour, I received an e-mail. That feature has since been turned off.
When Jacobs finally announced his intentions, I had my video camera in front of me, the Nikon in my right hand and my iPhone in the other. Each element plays a crucial role in today’s form of journalism, and now reporters are required to master it all.
The video would give you visual learners a chance to see Jacobs announce. The nice camera takes printable, quality photos for a paper or the web. And the iPhone, my favorite of all tools, is a do-it-all master of the journalism universe.
As soon as Jacobs reached for the Oklahoma State hat I snapped a photo with my phone (then quickly whipped out the Nikon) and as fast as you could say hashtag, I posted the pic to Twitter. My new-found followers went into a feeding frenzy of retweets and comments. Interacting with real fans in real time is a unique experience that I didn’t fully understand the importance of until, within 15 minutes (before I had a chance to even talk to Jacobs) my “OSU for Jacobs” tweet and picture had been retweeted 25 times and numerous Cowboy fans were relishing in their good fortune.
I hung out with the Jacobs family and friends for an hour, trying to peel away his mom, grandmother and the man of the hour himself for interviews (recorded, by the way, on my iPhone). Then it was time to work … but, being in Arroyo Grande around dinner time, I grabbed In N’ Out first.
Wanting a relaxing environment to work on my story, I pulled into SLO Donut Company. The term “backpack journalist” came to life as my bag seemed to explode across the bar. Laptop, power cord, iPhone (with cord), photo card reader and my Flip camera were spread across the table in a technological orgy.
For three hours my Mac strained against the onslaught of information, but before the clock hit 11 a 700-word article, a couple edited photos and a video of the announcement made it’s way from my inbox to Rivals.com.
There was no better time for a chocolate pillow (or a real one, for that matter).
This would normally be the time that I would shamelessly self-promote (business people would say market) and post a link to my story, but Rivals is a subscription-only news organization and it costs 100 bucks a year.
I guess that’s just the price of doing business in the new age of journalism. Let’s just hope that money finds a way to trickle down and save the industry.