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What's next for news

July 13, 2011

Fresh journalism faculty Chris Snider on the future of journalism

Chris Snider just completed his first full year as instructor of practice in multimedia journalism.

Chris Snider

We asked him how he carries over his past experience as a newsroom innovator to inspire the next generation of journalists and communicators.

What excites you about the future of journalism?

I'm excited to see how journalism translates and ultimately learns to thrive in this new digital and social media-driven world. Clearly, we haven't figured that out yet. There's an opportunity out there for anyone — even students — to really make a mark on the future of the profession.

Do you approach teaching journalism differently than your professors did when you were studying? How so?

I do, mainly because I spent my entire career in a newsroom. I focus a lot on helping students get the skills they need to be successful in the real world — whether they are going into news or magazines or public relations. I also try to inspire them to see all of the possibilities of digital tools. When the next big thing comes along that makes us all forget Facebook ever existed, I expect my students to be leaders in how they can use it in their professional lives.

Can you give some examples of outlets that are doing new media right?

The New York Times really is incredible. I know they obviously have a lot of resources, but that's the first place to look for new media inspiration. On an individual scale, I like what Derrick Goold is doing as a baseball beat reporter for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He's having a conversation with his readers, on Twitter, Facebook and on his blog. It's amazing how accessible he is to baseball fans.

What blogs, journals or sources do you use to stay current on trends?

Mostly blogs. I read and recommend www.mashable.com, www.10000words.net, www.lostremote.com, www.allfacebook.com, www.socialmediaexaminer.com and www.hyperarts.com. I read more, but those are the ones I'm getting the most from right now.

What do you see is the role of a journalist in the 21st century?

Journalists will keep telling stories and keep helping people be better informed and better members of their communities. They’ll just do it using different distribution methods than we did in the past century. The big thing that is changing is that the journalists are now in position to better communicate with their audience via social media. I think that is a good thing.

How do journalism skills apply to non-journalism jobs in the corporate sector?

If you can write and you can effectively communicate the truth, you're an asset to any company. As long as journalists are still learning those core skills, they are going to be in demand. Most journalists I know could have always made more money doing something else, but they have a passion for being a journalist.

What is the value of students being educated in multi-media?

Its important we learn to be good journalists first. Then, we have to follow whatever medium people are using. As more and more people are using the Internet, mobile devices and social media, it just makes sense that we as journalists can use those tools to communicate with people.

On your website, you blog about the top 10 newspapers on Facebook. Can you explain that project a little more?

I check how many ‘likes’ the top 100 largest newspapers have on Facebook. I really just wanted a way to quickly assess how seriously newspapers were taking Facebook as a tool. Just looking at their likes isn’t giving me the full picture, but it provides an idea at who’s working to increase their number of likes, and who’s just letting content sit out there. The next step will be to figure out how we can truly measure engagement.

Do you have any plans for things you would like to do in the future?

Well, I’m having a son right at the beginning of the school year. He’s actually scheduled to be born on the first day of school, so I'll be learning to be a dad.