Laurel Touby on Changes in Journalism

Question: Would you encourage aspiring journalist to go to journalism school?

Laurel Touby:  I think journalism is changing so much. It’s hard to even say what journalism is anymore. Everything’s morphing and so I wouldn’t say just go to journalism school because I’m not sure you’re going to learn the skills there. I would say go out and work in what you think is journalism for a while and then decide if you need journalism school after that. Journalism can connect you to a lot of working journalists because those are the people who come in and give lectures. I go in to journalism schools and I talk to people and the number of people who actually follow up with me and try to get connected is very low so take advantage of journalism school if you do go. That’s what I would advise.

Question: Why are newspapers are doing less investigative reporting?

Laurel Touby:  Newspapers are losing their investigative reporting muscle and it’s a terrible shame. Nonprofits are starting to trickle up that are going to fill the space that newspapers used to fill. I don’t think it’s such a shame. I think it’s just a sign of the times. We’re going to need more emphasis on public television and public radio and public outlets for this kind of reporting and they’re very important types of reporting, but you can’t expect the newspapers, which are a business, to do everything and not make any money. It’s a problem. It’s a big problem.

Question: What advice would give to the publishers of the major media outlets?

Laurel Touby: I went to a newspaper conference just a few years ago and I quizzed some of the publishers there and they had not heard of Craig or Craig’s List and Craig was already destroying them so they are going to be slow to making any changes until they absolutely have to. Now that they realize they have to, it’s a little too late and I think what you’re going to see is just huge newspaper companies gobbling up smaller ones and you’re going to see just a lot of rejiggering and a lot of newspapers going out of business. And what’s eventually going to happen is there are going to be new models percolating up out of this morass, out of this chaos, and it’s going to be an exciting time. I don’t see it as a bad thing. I see it as just an evolution.

Question: What changes do you see happening in television?

Laurel Touby:  I think they are catching on quicker--  The television news industry is catching on a lot quicker than newspapers for example. They’re actually making use of new technologies, new models, but they’re still a little bit slow to adopt things. It’s all the same stuff you’re hearing. It’s not going to sound new or different but it’s just that they’re not using it. They’re not really getting in to mobile as much as they can. They’re not--  The day that we have a television that can actually access the internet with a click of a button is really what I’m looking forward to. I can’t wait.

Recorded on: 06/26/2008

Laurel Touby discusses the value of on-the-job training and what the big guys are getting wrong.

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