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Stop Using the Term Convergence and other Good Advice from ESPN’s Wright Thompson

April 23, 2008


Students at The University of Mississippi’s department of Journalism received a dose of good advice from Wright Thompson in the third day of Journalism Week. Thompson offered the following advice to the students, which I believe, apply to anyone interested in the profession of journalism today and wants to know where journalism for the 21st century is heading…Here are some of the highlights from his talk:

1. There is no difference in working for a web-site or in working for a newspaper. What people did at the newspaper in the 60s they are still doing now but on the web-site.
2. Stop using the term convergence. It is more of an advertising term or business term and not journalism. Convergence has nothing to do with what we should be doing as journalists and writers.
3. The same fundamental stuff in journalism has not changed. Ask smart questions and find interesting people to ask the questions to.
4. Learn how to write, learn how to report…everything else will be OK.
5. Don’t immerse yourself with the doom and gloom of the industry. Even during the depression there were people who were still traveling and spending time in Europe and other places. The industry is still hiring good folks.
6. Remember the art of storytelling. Learn the skills and try to be a story teller. Every story must have a character, a plot, an outline from the very beginning.
7. The best stories are about Hope and Fear.
8. The 24-hour cable news is nothing but a video blog.
9. In ESPN we do journalism first and then we figure which is the best platform.
10. The internet has created more accountability and more integrity. You can’t get away with things today like you used to be able to do 20 or 30 years ago.

The entire talk of Wright Thompson will soon be uploaded on the department of journalism MCast video service soon. To check all other talks and presentations on MCast please click here.

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2 comments

  1. All excellent points. I have no idea why journalists- especially new, student journalists – are so freaked out by the tech groundswell. OK, I can see why an old dog might not want to learn any new tricks, but the up and comers should be excited… the market for their expertise is expanding! And if for some reason they can’t find a market, they can just publish it themselves. Never before in human history has there been a better time to be alive if what you want to do is tell a story. Rejoice!


  2. This is all well and good. But the tech-related stress isn’t coming from folks at larger media outlets such as ESPN — which has a dedicated Web-development staff … and then some — as much as it is from smaller shops. When an editorial staff of two or three is suddenly asked to shoot/post video, blog and otherwise “figure out this Web thing,” they often lack the training, resources and time to do so.

    It ain’t like their salaries are goin’ up. And it ain’t like J schools are developing strong “new”-media-based curricula (especially at the master’s/doctorate level) to keep pace.

    And let’s face it: No Ole Miss grad is likely to land a job such as Wright’s any time soon. They’ll be landing in places such as Hattiesburg, Jackson and B2B pubs, if they’re lucky. If they’re not, they’ll be self-publishing with the other 3.9-million schlubs out there.



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