Wednesday, October 6, 2010

This is also CNN: getting out of the way of innovation

LAS VEGAS -- After blowing up their silos, CNN began hiring All-Platform Journalists, or APJs. They do about everything, but don't call them one-man bands. That'll just rile up Victor Hernandez, who thinks it makes them sound like a carnival act, instead of the innovative, hard-working reporters they really are.

Hernandez talked a lot about being "platform agnostic" at the SPJ National Convention, and it's something we all need to start taking much more seriously -- finding the best way to tell stories, instead of digging ourselves in where we're most comfortable. If video is the best way to tell the story, use it, instead of falling back on text, because there's a news hole somewhere that needs to be filled. If text provides context and explanation, then tell it that way, even though someone still thinks there has to be a video over a talking voice.

Or use both. Text with video.

Journalists are listening. I hear a lot less whining that "I'm a newspaper reporter, so I shouldn't have to learn this video." The multimedia presentations this week were packed. People were eager to learn to work on all platforms.

Hernandez said the skills are developing, but there's still one piece that needs work:

Some examples:

Or look what APJ Sarah Hoye did on a multimedia project on natural gas fracking with CNN Money's Steve Hargreaves. It included this video, which follows more of a documentary style than the typical TV formula:

Of course, inspiration for following a different path remains print icon Jimmy Breslin, who wandered off from press pack covering the funeral of John F. Kennedy to interview the man who dug the president's grave.

So as we left the convention, we carried the question: Are we moving toward the future or living in the past?

At least that's what Mark Briggs wondered, while leaving Las Vegas to the tune of John Mellancamp:

"If you’re not part of the future then get out of the way."

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