Friday, 12 February 2010

Multimedia? It doesn't mean you're a reporter...

The advent of the modern-day newsroom, or hub as it is more-often now known, has spawned a whole new generation of wannabe reporters who, quite frankly, aren't and never will be.

Gone are the days where every newsroom would have one person in the corner - probably an editor's secretary or a newsroom manager (editorial assistants who are over 40) - who thought they were the ONLY real reporter in the room despite having absolutely no training and never having written a word for print.

No, now we have a whole host of people who have come to regard themselves as reporters, simply because they work in the same room as many.

Perhaps the most notable progression in this regard is the multimedia coordinator, or web developer.

These people have never, will never and could never write a coherent piece. End of story.

Yet because they have been sitting in a newsroom for a week, possibly less depending on the annoyance factor of the individual concerned, they are full of pearls of wisdom and anecdotes regarding the intricacies of reporting and newspapers in general.

Only today, a web developer who fits all of the above criteria, began regaling me with tales of how frustrating it can be when you are doing a vox pop and the unsuspecting member of the public speaks to you for half-an-hour on the latest hot topic, before refusing to be named or photographed.

Now, the tale is true and in invaluable one when briefing that week's hapless workie, or a trainee on their first vox pop experience, but when asked whether she had ever conducted a vox pop, guess what the response was?

You guessed it, 'no'.

What was even more puzzling was the confused look on her face, as if experience of actually having done it would have given her frustration any more validity.

I have nothing against these people, I'm sure they play a valuable role, doing the job they are there to do. Lord knows, it's not like we would employ far too many techies simply because they can tell us we need eight people to do the job and those in charge wouldn't know whether that was true or not, is it?

But please, non-reporters around the news globe, please don't absorb the tales of those around you and attempt to share in their wisdom.

Because, God knows, until you've stood in the rain trying to secure that final talking head for 25 minutes, an irate tog at your arm moaning about how they've never taken this long over a vox pop before, you really can NEVER share our pain.

So don't even try.

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