Rory Cellan – Jones, The BBC ‘s technology correspondent, kindly squeezed us into his hectic schedule last Tuesday.
It was an interesting talk, comparing the old fashioned newsroom to the modern day journo world. – we realised just how much the broadcast news has changed. He then posted a not particularly flattering photo (hell, 500 people have already seen it, damage is done) of us all on twitter, resulting in a barrage of advice from journalists from all over the show, ranging from pessimistic (telling us to give up right now) to the absurd (picking on poor James for wearing a scarf indoors). So we didn’t get much from that, we did however, (well I did anyway) learn something from Jones, who shared a few wise words of his own:
1. Focus on key skills
Jones told us to try and develop a solid core skill, or skills. We shouldn’t forget about the good old nuts and bolts of journalism, such as researching, interview techniques and structuring a story. It’s still oh so important, despite the change of scene (i.e technology). This links with a piece I wrote recently about how young recruits are not up to scratch in terms of key skills. Simple basics like grammar are being neglected nowadays -it’s something we should all be really focusing on.
It’s important to have an array of other skills on the side to whip out and impress employers with. (and this is where knowing about all this fancy online stuff comes in- I feel I have a long way to go on this one!)
Specialisation is useful too. Jones reckoned this would probably become even more useful in the future.
2. Realise that it’s okay not to be an expert
Although Jones is a technology correspondent, he admitted that he is not the world expert. Which is quite reassuring for us. I have to admit I was finding the prospect of being known as a specialist quite daunting. It’s important to remember that the role of a Journalist is- after all to be the mediator of information. Seeking it out and tell it back to people in a way they’re going to understand and enjoy.
3. Convey the story clearly
Like Jones said, the skill of the journalist is to be able to tell a complex story in a simple, effective way. He demonstrated this point well, though both examples of his news pieces and the dynamic and interesting presentation he gave us.
Although I guess I kind of knew all this before it just highlighted how important it is to really fine tune those traditional skills, get a niche and not to feel too distraught if you’re not the world genius of your chosen subject. Leave the expert stuff to the experts and just concentrate on using your journalistic skills to get across the story in a clear and exciting way.