You Can Do This

Lesson Details

Subject: Journalism

Title: You Can Do This


In this lesson Michael shows you how in the digital age everyone is a journalist, all you need to do is start making stories. The old days are over, so go write the new age.


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As you probably know I used to teach at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. I spent eight years there ‘til they threw me out and then I taught at NYU’s Graduate School of Journalism. I think I spent about eight years there until they threw me out. The reason they threw me out was the faculty didn’t like me. The reason the faculty didn’t like me was I used to say to my students on the first day “Go back to the Bursar’s office, get your money back, go buy yourself a video camera and laptop. I can teach you how to do this in a couple days. 

Then get on a plane and go start making stories. That's really the essence of journalism. To spend $65,000 a year for three years about $200,000 if I get my math right is crazy. First it leaves you deeply in debt and second there’s nothing you can’t learn there that you won’t will learn here for a lot less money. But more importantly journalism schools are filled with people, sorry to say who had their careers and networks and newspapers and retired and find this is kind of a second job and spend their lives talking about how they used to do things in the old days. Well the old days are over. The technology has changed, the platform has changed the industry has changed. You're wasting your time. Not only are you wasting your time, you’re getting corrupted and infected by taking lessons from people who spent their entire careers in an industry that is going down the drain fast. 

There is a new journalism that’s being born however. The new journalism is very different from the old one. In old one the only way you could practice journalism after you got your degree was to go to work for an institution like the New York Times or CNN or one of the Murdoch newspapers or television stations and work your way up through the ranks and do what they told you to do. Your access was limited you could only write stories when you became a reporter. You could only be a reporter on television when you had paid your dues and worked your way up and even then somebody else had the camera and somebody else had to edit. The hours were limited and you only had a certain number of minutes on the air. 

All of these things are antithetical to an Internet that’s infinite and a technology that allows everyone access all the time. Anybody can be a journalist and in fact, in today's world everyone is a journalist. The average person now uploads to Twitter and Facebook and YouTube all the time. One hundred hours of video get uploaded to YouTube every minute. For NBC to match the output of YouTube, one year’s output, NBC would have to produce flat out for the next 3000 years. I don't think they're going to be in business that long. What does this mean for you? A journalist is a storyteller. Well you’re a storyteller we’re all storytellers. That's why we're here and the tools of storytelling have never been more available. You don't need CNN. You don't need NBC. You don't need the New York Times. In fact you don't want them, there old, they’re archaic and they're on their way out. What’s on the way in is a whole fresh new approach where you and I and everyone else who was something to say get’s to say it because the tools are in front of us. 

This kind revolution happened once before. When the printing press was first invented people got access to printing for the first time in their lives. Before that, the only book that got published was the Bible and the only people who could do it were the church or the monarchy. Kind of the CNN and the New York Times of their time but the printing press suddenly allowed anybody who had an idea to publish. Well you probably have got a lot of ideas. You’ve probably got a lot of things you want to express whether you're an individually or you work for organization like the United Nations or IFAW or you’re just annoyed about something. You’ve got something you want to say or a story you want to tell and share. The new technology now is the democratization of video. This never happened before. Journalists always say, “I love a Free Press”. Well now they’re going to be faced with one for the first time and you’re part of it. So pick up the tools, get to work and start making content. Follow the rules we give you here and join the journalist revolution. Nothing like this has ever happened before at least the last 500 years.

© Michael Rosenblum & Lisa Lambden 2015