Megan Taylor

front-end dev, volunteacher, news & data junkie, bibliophile, Flyers fan, sci-fi geek and kitteh servant

Rebooting Tomorrow’s News, Tomorrow’s Journalists

tntjThis month, TNTJ (a blog ring for young journalists around the world who debate a topic each month) is asking for help. Over the last few months, postings have dwindled, and it’s time to get people motivated again.

The problems that TNTJ faces are not unique. It is the problem we face every time we try to create a community. Look at all the Ning communities that have been created for journalists. How many are still active?

Last month’s topic was “Have you fallen out of love with blogging?” There were a couple of responses, most of which seemed to say “We like blogging, but Twitter is faster and easier.”

I totally sympathize, as my own blog has been neglected. But I don’t agree. Blogging is for long-form discussion, rather than the short bursts of lazy links we all get on Twitter. (Mind you, I’m not hating on Twitter, but it is hard to get ideas into 140 characters.)

Other topics have been:

  • What advice would you give to a student or recent graduate who has a summer/job internship?
  • Tips, knowledge and experience are essential — but how do you get them? Where do you look?
  • What are your summer (internship) plans? And, if you’re graduating, what are your job prospects?
  • What traditional skills are we ignoring, or letting slip? What’s the downside of new media?”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than 5 or 6 responses to a TNTJ question in a given month. Unfortunate, because I would love to get to know the other participants and hear what they are working on, learning and thinking. I haven’t responded every month myself, either because the topic was narrowed to students or I didn’t want to be repeating the same obvious answers.

I think that the topics have been lukewarm and mostly aimed at students. I don’t know how many students make up the TNTJ circle, but those narrow topics make it hard for graduates and out-of-work journalists like myself to contribute. Some of the topics have also been so narrow that the responses are kind of obvious and predictable.

TNTJ is also considering adding a podcast to the mix. Again, the success of this endeavor will rely entirely on the community. Will enough people be able to contribute? Will people have different opinions that will make these discussions interesting?

If the topic were interesting, I would listen. I would definitely participate in any discussion I thought I could contribute to.

What else can TNTJ do to stimulate discussion?

I think one of the major problems is the lack of mission. What is TNTJ trying to accomplish? Just gathering young journalists together isn’t enough of a mission statement. We need something to work toward.

What are we, as young journalists, trying to accomplish?

I believe that like most journalists at this time, (indeed, most people) we are trying to make places for ourselves in a changing world, while exerting what effort and influence we have to make that world better.

There are two major parts to this: seeing where we are, and seeing where we will go. That is what we should be discussing every month.

Some ideas for future topics:

* What new projects and experiments are you watching or working on?
* What technologies are emerging and how will they affect journalism?
* What are you learning?
* What are the elements of journalism that we should expand upon in order to do our jobs better?
* What business models might support journalism in the future?