Last week, I posted the first half of the interview with Paul Hurley. Today’s post is the conclusion of the email interview.
The Goods (Part II)
LB: What are some of the most recent concepts that you have taught your journalism students that interest you?
PH: Some of the things we’re discussing here in this interview have been fodder for our class discussions, including the future of print media, the relevance of critics in a world of bloggers, the rise of digital media, changing standards of traditional media, etc.
Last week we had an interesting discussion about the phenomenon in China about the “mud-grass horse.” In Mandarin, the phrase “mud-grass horse” could be interpreted as sounding similar to a particularly common and obscene vulgarity. Somebody in China made up a kind of fairy tale about the mud-grass horse, as if it were a tale for children. But the story is filled with language that could be considered obscene.
The video is intended as a criticism of the Chinese government, which has been relentless in trying to control and censor online content in China, mostly successfully. It uses the term “harmony” to explain the importance of expurgated content on the Internet. As it turns out, “harmony” sounds very close to the words “river crab,” which the mud-grass horse vanquishes in the fairy tale.
You could find all this stuff online, BTW.
Anyway, the mud-grass horse has become a cultural phenomenon in China. It has been viewed literally millions of times and copied and repeated tens of millions. There are all kinds of offshoots – pictures, cartoons, jokes, etc.
The Chinese people are using this very subversive method to criticize their government, which obviously tolerates no criticism at all. And they are using the Internet to get their message out.
From a political standpoint, it’s very exciting. It’s like Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense,” except in the 21st century. It indicates that Chinese totalitarianism will fall; it will not prevail, because of the ability of people to communicate freely with each other. That’s very powerful, when you think about it.
LB: In the same email I mentioned before, you said that journalism (most specifically new media) is going through a transition. In your opinion, what do you feel this transition is, and where will journalism end up?
PH: The transition is from one medium to others, from a system where the communication line is linear to a network. The capability of electronic media is making that possible and accelerating the process.
Some form of journalism will always be relevant and valuable. People want to know about their world and each other. Journalists will need to discover and communicate that. There will always be a need for people to capture data, synthesize that information, and present content that makes sense of it for the rest of us.
That process, however, will take place on different platforms than simply newspapers and magazines, or radio and television. No doubt Web sites will also change and become different that what we are accustomed.
In the end, though, journalism will retain these qualities: It will need to continue to be expert and not amateur (speaking of bloggers here). It will need to be relevant, that is, tell people what is most important to them, and certainly not to what people in the major media centers think is important. It will need to be interactive: Opportunities will be built in for people to both provide feedback but also provide additional information. In that way, journalism will become more wiki.
LB: What advice would you give to an individual who desires to enter the journalism industry?
PH: Work on the skills that will be valuable in a world where journalism becomes what I just described. Communication skills are essential. Experience with different platforms will be important. Journalists can’t shy away from technology anymore. They must embrace it fully.
It will be important for journalists to be their own camera person, graphics designer, sound technician, etc. Then they will have to do what they can to stay ahead of the curve, to know about the latest thing, if not use it. They will also have to be prepared to collaborate, and not just with other journalists, which has been common for years, but with their audience. Doing all that requires having a well-developed critical sense: The idea is the thing, not the medium. There are lots of ideas out there. You better be able to tell the good stuff from the crap. Start learning now.
Once more, I would like to thank Paul Hurley for sharing his time and expertise for the Wordy’s Wisdom Blog. I hope that everyone who has read the full interview found it to be as interesting and insightful as I did.
What are your opinions about the future of journalism or media? Your comments are welcome below.