‘Smaller newspapers want to hire one person who can do five or six things. ...
If you are a one-trick pony, then you’re a one-trick pony without a job.’
Gabriel Dance ’06 (MA)
multimedia producer with The New York Times
audio or video specialist, interactive producer, photographer or cartographer.
“The trips lent the closest real-life
experience to what it would be like working at a newspaper’s news Web site nowadays,” Dance said.
Dance, who also is an adjunct faculty
member at Columbia University’s journalism school, sees two routes students can take
in journalism: Play a small role at a large
organization or a large role at a smaller
newspaper. One path requires people to be
excellent at one or two skills, such as programming, 3-D modeling, cartography or
audio storytelling, and be familiar with other
roles on the team, he says. The other path is
to be pretty good at everything.
“It’s a rough go for news organizations,
but I don’t think that means it’s going to
be a rough go for journalists,” said Debra
Potter ’ 72, executive director of NewsLab
and a former GAA board member who
went through two rounds of layoffs as a
network correspondent in the 1980s. “
Journalists need to bring something extra to
the table now, whether it be multimedia
expertise or their own following.
“No one can afford to say, ‘I don’t do
that; I’m a print reporter,’” Potter said.
Dance agrees: “The Times and other
large media institutions are hiring people
with advanced skill sets of at least two
things,” he said. “They are familiar with
other areas, but they are the best at what
they do. … Smaller newspapers want to
hire one person who can do five or six
things. The Times can afford to hire 10
people for every one person The Denver
Post can afford. So The Denver Post needs
that person to do more things.
“If you are a one-trick pony, then
you’re a one-trick pony without a job,” he
Yet, no one can
afford to lose sight
of journalism’s core.
’05, a reporter at
The Plain Dealer in
Cleveland, says the
basic skills of
reporting and writing won’t change,
regardless of the medium in which the
story is presented. A decade older than
most of his classmates at UNC, he looks to
some of his co-workers in their 20s for the
database analysis facility he lacks. But his
stories are read, and they make a difference.
COURTESY OF GABRIEL DANCE
Earlier this year, Puente wrote 18 stories
that led to the resignation of a sheriff who
had been in office 32 years. The information Puente uncovered came from leather-