Mindy McAdams (Teaching Online Journalism) points to a very interesting post by Paul Conley. Mr. Conley has held senior positions at Knight-Ridder, CNN, Primedia/Prism and Bloomberg. He serves on the professional advisory boards of College Media Advisers, the national group that works with student journalists, and Northwest Missouri State University’s Mass Communications program. His clients include Primedia/Prism, Reed Business, About.com and IDG.
“I’m urging employers not to offer any training in Web journalism. There are two reasons for this. Here they are:
1. You cannot train someone to be part of a culture.
For someone to work on the Web, they must be part of the Web. That, after all, is what the Web means. The Web is a web. It exists as a series of connections. An online journalist isn’t a journalist who works online. He’s a journalist who lives online. He’s part of the Web.
It’s a waste of time and money to teach multimedia skills and technology to someone who hasn’t already become part of the Web. And there’s no need to teach skills and technology to the journalists who are already part of Web culture, because the culture requires participation in skills and technology.
Or, to put it another way — I cannot teach the Web. No one can. Yet all of us who are part of the Web are learning the Web.
2. When the fighting begins, the training must end.
We cannot move backward to round up the stragglers and train them to fight. It’s too late to try to convince print journalists that the Web has value. It’s too late to tell them that an Internet connection is worth a few dollars a month. As revenue shrinks, we can’t spend money on training. We can’t gather up the print folks and “prepare them as online journalists.”
You can’t prepare people to dig a fighting (fox?) hole. You just tell them to dig. And the ones who don’t dig fast enough, deep enough or well enough, die.”
Wow. I confess that I agree with Conley but would never say it around my reporter friends. What good can come of telling them it’s too late. The train left the station and they can’t run fast enough to catch it. Ms. McAdams isn’t sure she agrees, so read her post, too.