‘New world’ journalists debate convergence in journalism

A panel of ‘new world’ journalists debated what it means to be a fully converged journalist, as part of the second day of the NCTJ Journalism Skills Conference at Cardiff University.

The debate was chaired by Richard Tait, director of journalism at Cardiff University and the panel was made up of Kevin Leonard of BBC Wales, Hannah Waldram from the Guardian and Ed Walker of Media Wales.

Hannah is the Guardian’s Cardiff beatblogger and reports on local issues in the community. She is not based in an office and instead bikes around the city filing reports, shooting video and images, and in the process builds a good relationship with readers from the local area.

Hannah posts daily blogs to the website and readers are encouraged to comment and participate in discussions to help build an online community. She tries to get local people involved in the site as much as possible and also includes widgets on the blog such as ‘My Society’ that allow maximum input from readers.

In addition Hannah is engaging the existing blogging community and commissioning guest posts from local bloggers and student journalists. This helps the site reflect what people are doing and thinking in Cardiff and makes it more personal.

Ed Walker is an online reporter for Media Wales who reports on the local Cardiff community for their website.

He spends most of his time out of the office, meeting people and engaging with the local community. Like Hannah, Ed’s main pieces of equipment are a laptop and mobile phone that allow him to post content from wherever he is at the time. He also works with local bloggers to ensure the website content reflects the views of the community and engages readers.

Ed creates podcasts from discussions with other, more specialist, reporters that have become a popular addition to the website and has also made effective use of data mapping to show the views of different communities in the area. This feature has been particularly useful at engaging readers.

Kevin Leonard is an online reporter for BBC Wales, who has previously worked in newspapers and TV. He has a broad range of skills including being able to use design software and shoot professional video and spoke about his experiences working across different media.

As a converged journalist, Kevin can also work for BBC Wales television so needs to be able to apply his skills to a variety of situations and technologies. During his presentation he mentioned that currently the BBC can only commission videos for television, rather than specifically for online but that online media is becoming more and more prevalent.

Kevin said that the “NCTJ taught me the principles of good journalism” and that these had stood him in good stead for his future career, no matter what media he was working on.

Although the media platforms may be different, Kevin said, “we mustn’t lose sight of what makes a good journalist.” All the panellists commented that they used their shorthand everyday in their work, and they also thought it was still important to have all the core journalistic skills despite needing to work with other technologies.

The panellists also believe that although, printed media is not “fading away”, in Ed’s words, online journalism is key for the future, and more and more outlets will embrace its potential.

The debate presentation from all three journalists was really well received by everyone at the conference with Alan Geere, regional managing director of the Essex Chronicle Series, commenting that it had been a “refreshing and inspiring morning.”

Hannah and Ed’s presentations are available to view on the right.