Bulletin photo by Kareya Saleh

The panel on millennials, from left: Justin A. Petty, Roxbury (Mass.) Community College; B.J. Roche, University of Massachusetts-Amherst; Maureen Boyle, Stonehill College, Easton, Mass.; Fred Bayles, Boston University; Amy Callahan, Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill, Mass.

Panelists: Millennials
are engaged, and we should
engage them in return


By Debora Almeida
Bulletin Staff
and Sarah Keneipp
Bulletin Correspondent

Newspapers might not be dying, but they are undergoing major changes.

According to the panelists at “Meet the millennials – Training the next generation of journalists,” a session at the New England Newspaper and Press Association’s winter convention, the print newspaper industry should embrace young journalists as the face of that change.

At the Feb. 20 panel discussion, the journalism and media educators on the panel stressed for about 30 local journalists, journalism professors and students that the basics of reporting tend to be forgotten in the fast-paced digital world.

Because in today’s digital-first newsrooms, “the jobs are changing, and so are the job titles, but they’re still using journalistic techniques,” said Maureen Boyle, director of the journalism program at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass.

A key theme of the discussion was what Boyle said was a “newspaper’s obligation to train new journalists” through internships. One of the issues with hiring younger journalists is their lack of experience, and some of the panelists think that paid internships are the solution.

To that end, Boyle said she wants her students to gain real experience and not be sent to get coffee for the newsroom. She and other panelists think that paying interns increases the accountability and reliability of the students.

The panelists said traditional news outlets have an obligation to help train new reporters; they must present a newsroom that welcomes internship students’ contributions, to get them engaged.

B.J. Roche, a senior lecturer at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, said she found that when her students left the classroom, they had the expectation that they would be able to put forward innovative ideas in social media for the news media, but the newsrooms were unwelcoming to the interns’ contributions and to change.

Roche’s suggestion to editors: “Ask young students about different storytelling ideas using social media, doing different things that are the way they access the news.”

The panelists said that, even amid all of this change, they still emphasize the importance of good writing and multimedia skills in each of their courses.

Yet while there was some agreement that students aren’t coming into college with the best writing skills, there was some disagreement about where to put the focus of their journalism education.

At Roxbury Community College, “students are required to take journalism, and (the program) is hands-on oriented,” Justin A. Petty, professor and department chair of broadcast media technology, said.

Petty said the program caters to the “techie” students, focusing on broadcast journalism and multiplatform journalism that combines text, audio and video, and social media.

Fred Bayles, an associate professor of journalism at Boston University, sees the values in the new technology available to students, but stressed the importance of returning to the basics of the journalism education.

“The fear I have now is that we have to be careful not to forsake the basic of content and the basics of how you work and how you convey a story,” Bayles said.

Still, academia, as well as newsrooms and students, needs to adapt to the changing times, he said.

“The folks that are teaching journalism have limited or distinguished careers that go back many years, and they have presumptions that don’t exist anymore,” Bayles said. “There should be a requirement that the professors of journalism visit newsrooms once a year and spend a lot more time with (young people) to see what their needs are.”

The session opened with Amy Callahan, a professor and coordinator of the journalism department at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill, Mass., reading a quote from The New York Times calling millennials “brash, narcissistic and entitled.”

But, Callahan said, the news industry should know that journalism schools and programs benefit from hearing from these brash young men and women.

“By having deeper connections and building relationships, young people can learn what journalists do and learn how important it is,” Callahan said.


Bulletin photo by Pranav Temburnikar

Panelist Fred Bayles, at right in top photo, makes a point to the audience at the panel discussion on training the millennial generation of reporters.

‘The folks that are teaching journalism have limited or distinguished careers that go back many years, and they have presumptions that don’t exist anymore. There should be a requirement that the professors of journalism visit newsrooms once a year and spend a lot more time with (young people) to see what their needs are.’

-- Fred Bayles,
Associate professor of journalism,
Boston University

Sarah Keneipp is an undergraduate student in the Northeastern University School of Journalism.

 


POSTED 3/18/16


 



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