Super Journalists: Helping or Hurting the Profession?
December 11, 2013


A story by Jackie Spinner about photojournalism and the era of the Super Journalist, or a reporter who reports, writes and captures multimedia elements, is among the most highly clicked on stories thus far at AJR.org.

Many news outlets, Spinner reported, are asking their journalists to be jacks-of-all-trades, producing both multimedia and text.

The concept turns Henry Ford’s assembly line model on its head and begs the question: Is the efficiency of a journalist who does everything worth a potential dip in the quality of work?

The story addressed that question, but many of our readers gave their own input on the issue.

Here is a glimpse at some of the discussion from our comments section:

    • “When a journalist must choose between shooting the riveting photo and racing after the source to get the perfect quote, which takes precedence? ‘Reporters’ would always chase the quote; ‘Photographers’ would always capture the shot.Instinct and experience have a lot to do with what action journalists take,” said Elaine Povich, a journalist with Stateline.org.

 

    • “I understand why this is happening, but I can’t help but be a bit saddened that many of today’s young reporters won’t get to go out on assignments with those incredible photographers who used to populate so many newsrooms across the country. As a young reporter, I learned a lot from those photographers,” said Rafael Lorente, Annapolis bureau chief of Capital News Service at University of Maryland and a former reporter with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Miami Herald.

 

    • “I was a print journalist who also carried a camera and shot great news photos. The reason: I would often happen upon ‘erupting’ news–fires, weather or other natural events, etc., that needed recording at that moment. No time to call a photojournalist,” said user Wiseman28

 

    • “I felt like a jerk next to the other photogs with only my phone in hand- but, my content was posted in under five minutes,” said Cynthea Hausman about having to use a smartphone at an event after her camera was stolen.

 

    • “While I produced credible material wearing two hats, it was seldom my best work. While thinking through composition, exposure, etc. it was a distraction when trying to set up the next question, or catch the nuance in the response to the last one,” said Brian Steffens.

 

  • “While I agree it’s a hassle sometimes, I really enjoy it. When I cover a story, I feel like I own it. I am in control of the narrative and the visuals. I’ve found that understanding how editing works and how to tell a story through video has been an invaluable skill. But it is a skill that takes a lot of time to perfect,” said Jon Busdeker, a reporter at the Orlando Sentinel.
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