Reporter of the what?

A day before my 29th birthday, the executive editor had me stand up in front of that evening’s budget meeting. At that meeting, he introduced me to the staff as the “Reporter of the Future.”

Talk about pressure.

Ever since I first picked up a real camera when I was, say 17 or 18 years old, I envisioned one day becoming a photojournalist. Photography was one of my few joys in college, and my personal drive to carve some sort of career in photojournalism made me lose most of my old friends while in grad school. I had a three-year run as a staff photographer at CNI and later parlayed that experience into a job as a staff photographer at the Journal Times.

I thought I had reached the peak of my ambitions, working in my ideal field in my hometown.

A little over a year into my job there, some rather unexpected events took place.

A reporter got fired over questionable sourcing in a story, and the city editor came to me with a job for which there was not even a description for.

He said I would split time working on the paper’s website, generating a number of stories per week for daily, shoot and edit video reporting projects as needed and manage our weblogs on a daily basis.

I said “yes” and within 48 hours I was no longer a staff photographer.

What on earth have I done, I initially thought to myself.

Ask me why I did it (hopefully over a beer someday), and I’ll probably give you an answer unique to that particular moment on that particular day.

But I feel that this is a bold, somewhat new step for which there is no blueprint. I speculate there is a future for websites, weblogs and video in journalism’s future. Not only that, but ever more so in the future of photojournalism.

More and more photo journals and photo weblogs are coming on line each day. Bandwith is improving to the point where news papers can seriously consider video reporting a reliable option on their websites. Readers are becoming increasingly attracted to online versions of their local papers as not only a way to gather information, but in the case of weblogging, to interact with other readers and create their own dialogue.

Just last week, our paper covered a local murder in which a man shot and killed one of three suspects as they were fleeing from an attempt to burglarize the man’s car in front of his house. The resulting story and court proceedings are stirring public discussion on our paper’s website, that discussion alone is being recognized by competing media outlets in our area as story material in its own right.

I may not know what’s going on from time to time, and I may barely have my head above the sand, but as I look ahead, I’m hoping to be part of a great, and useful new way of thinking.

Scott Anderson
WNPA Webmaster.

Leave a Reply