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Howe: Bright future for journalism

  • By Sally Ann Cruikshank

    The rumors of journalism’s death have been greatly exaggerated it seems. At least according to journalist and E.W. Scripps School of Journalism graduate Jeff Howe (BSJ ’94).


    In this video, Howe talks with Prof. Stewart about coming back to campus, his memories of being a student in the School of Journalism, and his career.

    Howe, the author of Crowdsourcing: How the Power of Crowds is Driving the Future of Business, visited “The Future of Journalism” class to share his journey from Bobcat to best-selling author.

    After freelancing in New York City, he took a job writing for Wired magazine, despite not necessarily being an expert on technology.

    “It’s not a bad thing to have an over-optimistic opinion of one’s ability to learn on the job,” he laughed.

    He also noted that it wasn’t always easy to hold on to that optimism. When asked his biggest challenge as a journalist, Howe answered without hesitation, “self-doubt.”

    Kaitlyn Marshall, a freshman in Scripps, said she found that admission refreshing and inspiring.

    “I was surprised when he said self-doubt,” she said, “because for someone who has accomplished so much writing for the Village Voice, his job at Wired, and coining a widely used phrase, it was nice to hear this experienced and seasoned journalist admit to doubting himself. It made him seem so much more relatable, and I really liked that about him.”

    Howe continued working for Wired and other publications, before stumbling on the story that would lead to his book. It began as a piece on MySpace, before it was widely known as a social media website. At the time, musicians used it to circumvent record companies.

    “Myspace was a disrupting force in the industry and that was my story,” Howe said.

    He realized over the course of writing the story, that the Internet and other new technologies were changing the way media were created.

    “Everyone could produce a picture,” he said, and the prices of services such as stock photos dropped. Thus, crowdsourcing was born.

    The most important message Howe delivered, however, to a class of journalists just beginning their careers, is that the future of journalist is changing, but it’s still bright.

    “What we’ve learned,” Howe said, “is that journalism can’t be crowdsourced.”

    He urged students to learn the new model of journalism and demonstrated how it could work using a story he is currently working on, which is being funded by several news outlets and organizations.

    His advice for navigating new technology to become a successful journalist resonated with Scripps freshman Branden Labarowski.

    “One thing that really stuck with me was his recommendation to start a blog based on one of your particular interests, “Labarowski said. “Jeff was a charismatic guy, and I’m glad to be following him on Twitter. That’s one of my favorite things about JOUR 1010, really — getting to network with the speakers so you can potentially contact them whenever you want and let that knowledge grow beyond the span of those 1-hour, 20-minute lectures.”

    For many students, Jeff stood out for that charisma, and his optimism about their futures.

    Erin McCarthy summed up that feeling in a tweet shortly after class wrapped: “Just loved @Crowdsourcing Jeff Howe’s lecture @scrippsjschool. Talking about a changing yet optimistic future for journalism rocks.

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  • Posted by Bob Stewart on 10.11.2012 @ 00:00:00