Opinion » Note

The Buggles Were Wrong about Journalism


Back when I was a reporter for my college newspaper at Portland State University, it was a regular occurrence to interview students for an article and learn that our conversation was the moment they discovered PSU had a student newspaper, let alone three of them.

However, here in the big leagues, things are less different than you'd expect. I've lost count of the number of times that I am sent out on a story with Boise Weekly's video camera to shoot a piece for our website and get the question, "What are you going to do with the video?"

"Put it on Page 6," I often reply.

You'd think that seven years after the founding of YouTube and nearly three years after BW began its own dedicated video section to augment coverage, the answer would be obvious. Apparently not.

And it's not just interview subjects that seem puzzled by our video camera. Former BW Editor Rachael Daigle grumbled many a time about newspapers that pass the Internet off as a fad.

Like it or not, recognize it or not, the news world is evolving from organizations that focus on a single medium to organizations that serve as multimedia news hubs, executing coverage in whatever format is best-suited to the story and to the audience.

One of my favorite examples of this multimedia approach is from last year, when Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area installed a new high-speed quad chairlift on chair three. Moving the pieces of the lift into position on the backside of the mountain required a cargo helicopter, a dramatic and newsworthy event. And in covering it, news outlets could take any approach they liked. Still photos could capture an iconic moment. Words could paint a picture. Video could show the scope of the event. Most outlets took a single approach. Boise Weekly took all of them, putting a bold photo above a story that included an embedded video to offer a broader understanding of the story.

Another great example is when local high school students walked out of class to protest Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's education reforms. Everyone wrote about it, but BW had the student walkout on video--images that helped readers truly understand the story.

The Buggles were dead wrong about journalism. Video can save the radio star.

It's a multimedia future and I, for one, find it thrilling. Something new and exciting is being born, and we lucky few--readers and reporters alike--get to be a part of it what it grows into.