Overholser to grads: The journalism you’re helping reinvent is just coming into its own

Photo Courtesy of Geneva Overholser

Photo Courtesy of Geneva Overholser

Ed. Note: As the academic year comes to a close, the job market will be flooded with new graduates. Many of those leaving J-school may feel trepidation over the heavy downsizing that has afflicted nearly every major media outlet in the country in recent years. But there are reasons to be encouraged. Last Friday, Geneva Overholser, director of the journalism school at USC Annenberg and a veteran journalist herself, shared many of those reasons with the graduating class in her commencement speech. The core of her message was optimistic: Journalism is an industry that is being reinvented for the better, and today’s graduates are going to help shape it. Overholser herself will be retiring as director of the school, but she offered much hope — and a few bits of wisdom — for one more batch of bright-eyed students ready to become professionals. Following is the complete transcript of her speech, as prepared for delivery. [Read more…]

Data journalism jobs on the rise

As the Columbia Journalism Review reports, it behooves journalists to become literate in data coding, because that’s where jobs are opening up. It’s still a very small set of people who can combine the speed, ethics, understanding and fairness required of a journalist with the coding skills of a developer, says John Keefe, editor of data news at WNYC.

“[A]nybody who put any effort into being good at that and having those qualities is going to have a job probably before they can graduate,” Keefe told CJR.

Apparently, news sources as small as the Lansing State Journal and Vermont Public Radio are making space for data and design teams on their staffs. Publications can utilize coding-literate teams to produce graphics and surveys of demographics — census maps, for instance, in the case of WNYC’s coverage of Hurricane Irene, which brought them a record-setting amount of traffic.

Free tutorials like ones on Flowing Data and .net magazine teach journalists basic data coding skills that can help them become more employable, as outlets learn that the web offers them even more shots at being inventive and innovative and therefore more interesting to viewers.