The Medium Isn’t Always the Message

In this week’s podcast, we talk about the end of the Seattle P-I, which will become an internet-only publication as of next week. Last week, a prof at Columbia’s journalism school, the guy who teaches the core course, “Reporting and Writing 1,” took some heat in the blogs for making this comment about internet journalism:

“Fuck new media,” the coordinator of the RW1 program, Ari Goldman, said to his RW1 students on their first day of class, according to one student. Goldman, a former Times reporter and sixteen-year veteran RW1 professor, described new-media training as “playing with toys,” according to another student, and characterized the digital movement as “an experimentation in gadgetry.”

Chris Orr at TNR says this is “gross professional malfeasance” to not teach J-school students about the internet.

I take Goldman’s comments somewhat differently. It seems to me what he was saying is that writing and reporting chops are necessary no matter what the medium. And I think that’s true. There are a lot of bloggers out there — even some successful ones — who could use some help on the basics. Theoretically, solid reporting and writing skills are transferrable to any medium. That’s what you go to school for, not to to learn how to tag a post in WordPress.