Examples of ‘traditional’ reporters who really understand new media

Yesterday, I had to take the Metro from our Arlington offices to the newspaper’s main office in downtown D.C.

I almost always grab a copy of Express for the trip. For those who don’t know what Express is, it’s kind of The Washington Post’s answer to all of the free dailies that are popping up in large cities with well-used public transportation.

But yesterday, all of the Express racks were empty, so I grabbed a copy of City Paper instead.

The weekly paper had an interesting piece on the coverage of the Virginia Tech tragedy. As soon as I read it, I knew I had to blog about it because it really does a nice job of explaining how a tech-saavy reporter can do great journalism because of those skills — and even scoop those around him/her because of them.

The City Paper piece talks about how Washington Post reporters used the Internet for things like scouring blogs and contacting students via Facebook to get great leads and even exclusive interviews.

This clearly illustrates how a reporter who understands new technology (or basically how the world really works today, especially if you’re a college student) can use those skills to better serve his/her readers.

So, one example of a reporter using the Internet in the name of better journalism would be in the ways outlined in this City Paper story.

Another example of a reporter using new media to better serve his/her audience would be a journalist who uses this sort of technology to connect with readers on a daily basis.

An excellent example of this type of a new-media-saavy reporter would be Washington Post baseball reporter Barry Svrluga.

Barry does a great job of covering the ins-and-outs of the Washington Nationals on the pages of The Washington Post. And, yes, those stories also appear on washingtonpost.com. But that’s not what makes Barry — at least in my mind — one of the more interesting newspaper journalists to watch.

He’s a damn-fine multimedia journalist.

  • He has a popular blog that he usually updates at least a couple of times a day.
  • And, yes, his blog gets lots of comments from readers, and he frequently interacts with his audience in the comments section. It’s truly a dialogue, and a great local baseball blog.

  • He does a live online chat with readers about once a week or so.
  • He does a nightly post-game audio podcast that is very informative, and has lots of interviews with players and coaches.
  • He even appears on the new Washington Post Live sports television show that runs each day on Comcast here in the D.C. area.
  • The guy even writes books.
  • The team of folks that I get to work with here at Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive work with Barry each day. This is a journalist who is very serious about his role as someone who writes stories for The Washington Post.

    But he’s not so close-minded as to think that’s only way to connect with readers.

    I haven’t had a chance to meet Barry Svrluga yet, but when I do, I’m buying that guy a big-ass steak and as much beer as he can drink.

    It’s not people in roles like mine who are showing folks what the future of local newspaper journalism might look like. It’s guys like Barry Svrluga.

    In experimenting with online journalism for the last 10 years or so, the one thing that continually amazes me is how in nearly every market we’ve ever been in (including here in Washington D.C.), it’s nearly always a group of mid-career “traditional” reporters who end up doing the most interesting things with new media.

    I think there is a misconception that if you really want to get things done at a newspaper website, you need a “couple of kids right out of college.” Not that things aren’t changing, but I’ve never really found that to be true.

    As of right now, I’ll take the mid-career “traditional” journalist who still wants to kick some ass any old day.

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    Dad. Journalist. Nerd. Music lover. Baseball fan. Puckhead.