Where are students passionate about new media?

By Steve Outing

So I’m looking for a summer intern for my new company. I’ve sent announcements to the journalism programs at a couple of the major universities near me, the University of Colorado here in Boulder, and Colorado State University. A handful of resumes have come in, but I’m underwhelmed.

This is an intern position, so I’m not expecting lots of experience or killer skills. What I’m hoping to find is a student who is passionate about new media; who understands what I mean when I say that my company embodies the spirit of “citizen media”; who knows what blogging and podcasting are about; who gets why YouTube.com is exciting; who recognizes where the media world is heading and doesn’t aspire to a traditional TV or newspaper job after graduation.

Most of the resumes that have landed in my inbox don’t demonstrate any or much of that. I’m shocked. It makes me wonder if those journalism programs aren’t adequately preparing their students for the media of tomorrow.

Maybe the intern position looks too boring? I doubt it. Our business model touches on most of the cutting-edge developments in media. We deal with fun content (adventure sports).

Are most of today’s students stuck in media’s past? Where are the students looking for a fun part-time job in Boulder, Colorado, for the summer who fit my description above?

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!

15 Responses to "Where are students passionate about new media?"

  1. Dean Rizzuto
    Dean Rizzuto 11 years ago .Reply

    DU has a great New Media Studies program and I’ve gotten a couple of very good interns (one turned into full time later and was fantastic) out of that program. The ones I found fit your description. If you’re interested, contact me offline and I’ll pass along the contact information of a person to speak with in the department.

  2. Matt Swanson
    Matt Swanson 11 years ago .Reply

    Steve wrote: Are most of today’s students stuck in media’s past?

    Probably not. My worry would be about their teachers.

    Whenever people are looking for interns I always point them towards the Gerstacker Program at Albion College. If you are looking for Journalists you won’t find them here. This is a professional management program. But as a liberal arts college, the students that come out of there have a wide range of skills and talents that don’t always come from a more focused program. Here you are more likely to find someone with professional drive and passion in a different field. It worked for me. Now I’m the Internet Manager for a group of newspapers in Indiana.

    Good luck in your search.

  3. Snake
    Snake 11 years ago .Reply

    Yeah, I advertised for a paid position for someone who “gets” the internet and was looking for a “design your own career” person.
    I was underwhelmed too.

  4. Colin Brauns
    Colin Brauns 11 years ago .Reply

    Hey Steve,

    I am an undergraduate student at DU who is seriously interested. This is the one thing that came through my mailbox from our internship folks that caught my eye! I am super busy during the week, but this weekend I’ll be putting together a packet to send into you.

    Briefly, I am a junior who took part of the Critical Approaches to Digital Media Graduate level class. I am the only one to ever do so. I started Free Skool here at DU, and have grown the organization greatly. Over dinner last night with John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman, we were discussing issues of spectacle, apathy and citizen based media.

    Anyhow, my email is colin[dot]brauns[at]gmail[dot]com if you want to contact me before I turn in my packet this weekend. I am really excited for this! We are here, we are just underground!

  5. paul conley
    paul conley 11 years ago .Reply

    Hi Steve,
    It’s not the internship. It’s the students.
    Many of the journalism students I run into seem to have no interest in working in new media (although they all tend to consume new media.). They hand me resumes that look like they were created 30 years ago. And they seem taken aback when I start asking them about new media skills.
    I’ve seen so much of this that I’ve given these kids a nickname — silo students.
    If you’re interested, I’ve written about it here:

    http://paulconley.blogspot.com/2006/03/students-teachers-and-visionaries.html

  6. Josh Boissevain
    Josh Boissevain 11 years ago .Reply

    Paul Conley is wrong; it’s not the students.

    The students passionate about media are everywhere. I would know, I see them everyday.

    I am a journalism student at CU and I can tell you that I know a lot of people here in the j-school (just like me) who are extremely excited about the implications of and developments in media convergence. We talk about this stuff and practice it in and outside of class. We post to each other’s blogs; we share flickr photos, newsvine articles, and del.icio.us bookmarks; and we help design each other’s websites.

    The problem is NOT a lack of passion. What you take to be this lack of passion is, in reality, a healthy amount of skepticism about the future of online journalism and self-preservation in an industry that is potentially rapidly decreasing.

    You question if our programs aren’t preparing students like me for the jobs of tomorrow. I can tell you from experience that this is not the case. Day in and day out, I am inundated with information about what skills I need for the future. But I am also advised to solidify my reporting skills before I move on to anything else.

    As a soon-to-be-graduating news-ed major, I can tell you why students will, nine times out of ten, choose an internship at a daily rag over even the most cutting-edge online company. It comes down to where can we best acquire the skills to help us be successful in an incredibly competitive field.

    Speaking economically, students only have so much time that they can put into learning their trade. The practice of journalism hasn’t gotten any easier over the years nor have the schools become any more efficient at teaching it (i.e. it still takes four years to get a degree.) Learning all the new tricks, gizmos and languages of the Internet takes a lot of time. And as consumers with limited resources, we would have to sacrifice learning the fundamentals of journalism to devote our time to learning things like CSS or podcasting.

    Put yourself in our shoes for a second. You are just about to graduate from college and your reporting skills and your web literacy are roughly equal. You have the option to work as a reporter at a small paper and develop you skills as a reporter or to work at a web site and develop you HTML skills. If you choose to the latter, your reporting skills might not develop as much as if you chose to work at a paper.

    Obviously you can see the problem here. In an incredibly volatile industry, it would be better to appear on the job market with solid reporting skills than solid HTML skills.

    As one of my professors says: “You have to know how to cover city hall before you do anything else in journalism.”

    An internship in the online world sounds fun and exciting, but what is the cost-benefit ratio for taking one over an internship at a paper or TV station. A job in the “traditional” newsroom just seems more practical.

    It is up to you to convince us otherwise.

    Sure citizen journalism is great in theory, but is also has a lot of shortcomings and liabilities that have left more than a few black eyes on our industry.

    Sure, podcasts and the whole Web 2.0 thing is fun now, but what happens when the next tech bubble pops? Where will HTML skills and lack of solid reporting skills get us?

    But, to answer your question: Yes, today’s students are stuck in media’s past, and there’s a good reason for it.

  7. Steve
    Steve 11 years ago .Reply

    Response to Josh: First, thanks for writing a great explanation that perhaps explains what I’m experiencing finding students passionate about new media. But a flaw in your note is the assumption that spending an internship with an online media company will be mostly about HTML and CSS. It was the case a decade ago that online journalists spent more time on the technology than the content, but that’s changed. Now that online media is mainstream, that’s an outdated belief.

    I don’t understand why students would think it’s preferable to work in a part of the media industry that’s in decline (at a “daily rag,” as you call it) in order to gain experience. If your professors are still guiding you to newspapers as the place to gain your early experience, I think they’re misguided. I don’t pretend to speak for all media employers, but if I saw a resume from a college grad with mostly traditional newspaper experience, I’d worry that the person doesn’t have a grasp of where media is heading.

    If you want some of the basics to be part of your internships, how about working with an organization for whom you’ll be not only writing conventional articles, but also producing multimedia features, blogging, doing short-form video reporting, engaging in reader discussion forums, etc. That may be an online media company, or it may be a newspaper company that’s not stuck in the past.

  8. Josh Boissevain
    Josh Boissevain 11 years ago .Reply

    You’re right: few internships with online media will be strictly about CSS and HTML. I was merely using those two as examples for a much larger set of skills.

    What I am trying to say is that for us students, there are two distinct advantages of working at traditional media outlets for our internships before we make our way into the job market. (and I am only speaking from my experience and from what my fellow peers have said.

    The first is that as ‘apprentice’ journalists, we have to develop our skills as reporters. A place like the Daily Camera would be more valuable to me as an internship than a website like Newsvine (although as a news source I have way more respect for Newsvine) because the Daily Camera – though it may be in decline – could give me the support of dozens of editors who have been in the business for even longer than I’ve been alive. I want to develop my fundamentals (knowing AP style and how to develop a critical editing eye, how to cover a beat, how to interview, how to double and triple-check facts.) I don’t think a website like Newsvine or Newwest.net could give this same amount of support.

    The second is stability. Right now it looks as if the media is heading toward convergence online, but who knows what state we will be in five years – let alone twenty.

    It is kind of a guessing game for us students. Do we take a gamble and invest our time and energy in skills like blogging and engaging the reader, or do we play it safe and stick with the skills that have worked for generations and are versatile in almost any medium? I have friends that feel very strongly one way or the other about this, but I also know quite a few of us who are still on the fence.

    I would like to hope that your vision of the future of media will be the one to happen, but I also want to be safe just in case.

    If it’s any consolation, I think you’ll find more of what you call “passion” in the next generation of students (four years from now) as the market starts to stabilize. I have a feeling that the hesitancy and skepticism that I share with my graduating class will soon be obsolete, and you will be the one who will have to go through 300 resumes just to find an intern – not the Daily Camera or the Denver Post.

  9. Vanessa Haarhoff
    Vanessa Haarhoff 11 years ago .Reply

    There are some potentialy wonderful intern candidates in South Africa! I’v just graduated as a journo, with new media specialisation at Rhodes University, which was an excellent course offering many fantastic skills.

    What seems to be the common problem in SA, is the fact that online/ multimedia journalism has not taken off because of the low internet useage, therefore the job opportunities in the feild are small. However, there are many other opportunities attatched to new media journalism which skilled individuals in SA are taking advantage of.

    To see an example of what the Rhodes New Media Labs (NML) are producing, check out http://fest.ru.ac.za it is a site produced by a team of 12 and is one of the many projects developed by the NML.

    There is talent out there, I hope you find it…….

  10. Robot Historian (see manuel de landa)
    Robot Historian (see manuel de landa) 11 years ago .Reply

    Hi everyone.

    Steve,

    There are several answers to your question. You have astutely identified a major point for cultural battle in the identity of the world today. I would argue that there are three main purposes that there are not floods of emerging “new media” students.

    1) The economic functionalities established throughout the global empire of the West do not want citizen based media to succeed because it would cause a massive loss of power and change in power structure once it truly permeated all aspects of society.

    A simple (perhaps oversimplified) answer to the complex question you pose, Steve, is encoded above! Students want to go where the most experienced people are and where the money is. Additionally, the experienced people are where the money is.

    There is not enough money in new media formats. This has prevented the flooding of the market with students.
    A larger issue we should address is: why HASN’T there been a bubble surrounding citizen-based media? I think this is indicitive of the type of corporatocracy that is going to resist the decentralization throughout the next century of resources and knowledge, which is represented in citizen media.

    Again, my conversation over dinner with John Perkins (an economic hitman) on thursday night simply confirmed these beliefs.

    2) The overall structure of the University has been very slow in adapting to new media because of an age old paradigm of the University exhibited in the Ivy Leagues. Many Universities still attempt to follow that paradigm and ignore new media technologies and practices.

    There is a terrific discussion of this in Dr. Carl Raschke’s book, “The Digital Revolution and the Coming of the Postmodern University.” I suggest picking up this book as soon as possible. We had a conversation with Dr. Raschke on Wednesday night at Free Skool here at DU, and he outlines these issues in great detail.

    3) Students are surpassing their teachers in digital ability, causing a resentment from the teachers and a lack of direction for the students in their new media endeavors. This is from the Glass Bead Game, by Herman Hesse:

    Maro had been one of those highly talented pupils who in spite of their talent are always unpleasant and a grief to their teachers because their talent has not grown from below and from within. It is not founded on organic strength, the delicate, ennobling mark of a good endowment, of sound blood and a solid character, but is in a curious way something adventitious, accidental, perhaps even usurped or stolen. A pupil of meager character but high intelligence or sparkling imagination invariably embarasses the teacher. He is obliged to transmit to this pupil the knowledge and methodology he himself has inherited, and to prepare him for the life of the mind- and yet he cannot help feeling that his real and higher duty should be to protect the arts and sciences against the intrusion of young men who have nothing but talent. For the teacher is not supposed to serve the pupil; rather, both are the servants of their culture. This is the reason teachers feel slightly repelled by certain glittering talents. A pupil of that type falsifies the whole meaning of pedagogy as service. All the help given to a pupil who can shine but cannot serve basically means doing harm to service and is, in a way, a betrayal of culture. We know of periods in the history of many nations in which profound upheavals in cultural processes led to a surge of the merely talented into leading postions in communities, schools, academies and governments. Highly talented people sat in all sorts of posts, but they were people who wanted to rule without being able to serve.” – Page 473, Magister Ludi (The Glass Bead Game), Herman Hesse.

    If my articulations have been obtuse, please tell me and I will work to respond cogently and deeply. This is an issue of great debate, and great importance.

    Thanks for reading!

    Colin Brauns

  11. Steve Klein
    Steve Klein 11 years ago .Reply

    Steve,
    You didn’t see whether this was a paying internship.
    I know that at my school, George Mason University, students need to work to pay for school.
    You don’t have to convince me that internships are valuable; I tell my students that it’s the first think employers look for on a resume.
    But students need to graduate, too, and that is an expense.

  12. Steve
    Steve 11 years ago .Reply

    Steve: Yes, it’s a paid internship. Announcement I sent out stated that, and the pay rate was worked out at the recommendation of CU’s internship coordinator.

  13. Nathan Morgan
    Nathan Morgan 11 years ago .Reply

    Hi Steve,
    My name is Nathan Morgan, I am a junior in the photojournalism program at Western Kentucky University. I came across your article searching for research material on, “how college news publications can develop a greater online presence, with mutilmedia/new media interwoven and the steps needed to get there.”

    As a photo student with an emphasis in new media, and the photo editor of the student paper next semester (www.wkuherald.com), I am very interested in talking to you about applying for your internship and discussing the above question.

    Would you have anytime tomorrow for me to call you?

    Thank you.

  14. Jennifer Falor
    Jennifer Falor 11 years ago .Reply

    Hi Steve,

    I get interns from CU every semester to work at dailycamera.com and though it’s never hard for me to find students, you’re correct, it’s nearly impossible to find interns who have had any sort of online media training at their journalism schools. I spend a significant amount of time training and guiding them, but I have found that most students these days are very quick learners. They’re so comfortable using computers and media such as audio and video – they’ve been doing it for years. Most of them have made Web pages at some point in their school careers and they catch on to coding quickly too.

    My current group of interns had close to no experience with Web video and after an intitial experimentiation period, they cranked out compelling, professional videos. I even had one intern try her hand at a video blog, which turned out fantastic.

    CU would be wise to offer more online journalism classes. Students with web skills will certainly have no problems finding jobs after college.

  15. Charlotte Huffman
    Charlotte Huffman 10 years ago .Reply

    Regarding your concern about students learning journalism for the future…..I am a senior at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. As a broadcast journalism major, we spent the first 2 years learning traditional journalism, ethics, media law, general practices and all the boring stuff but important stuff. The school of journalism wanted to make sure we knew the ground work. Now, we are submerged in what you call “citizen media.” We are being trained from online blogging to coding pages for the internet to podcasts to reporting for all different mediums.

    I’m really no help to you in locating these journalists in Boulder, I’m only saying, yes they are our there, SMU’s program is on that track, you just may not be looking in the right places. Where the right places are, I don’t know…(as I said, I’m not much help.) But maybe your problem in searching for an intern is that he/she is not interested in “citizen media.” Most students have their heads in the game, but not ahead of the game…which is where it should be for this field.

    But basically, I think dependent upon the program and the students interests, students are definately learning the new media wave of journalism and all the skills that go along with it. So much so that we’re getting nasty looks from older traditionalist journalists who may feel threatened by this new wave of journalism, and furthermore, this new wave of convergent media journalists.

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