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Rob Curley and college media

I just walked out of a big keynote session that Rob Curley gave at the College Media Convention. Curley’s big fancy title is vice president of product development for Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive. Unofficially, he’s considered the big guru on all things related to digital media and community journalism for newspaper people. Curley and his team played big roles in building two local newsrooms, the Lawrence World Journal and the Naples Daily News, both of which we plan to visit to get a closer look.

Now he’s in Washington and he’s been leading the Post’s digital and community efforts. I won’t talk too much about these now, in part because one of our volunteers has a longer interview planned with Curley that should appear in a couple of weeks. But he said of lost of interesting things that were specifically directed at a college audience. So let me hit just a few of the highlights:

  • Newspapers must own local breaking news
  • Hyper-local content to Curley just means: “Do your damn job.”
  • Databases are critical to the future of journalism: “If you don’t work at a newspaper that has a fleet of nerds working there, apply somewhere else. Because they’re screwed.”
  • Newspaper reporters need to embrace multimedia.
  • Any news organization needs to figure out how to get its content on every possible medium, from iPods to mobile game players: “If I could figure out how to beam content into people’s asses, I would.”
  • News is now a dialogue, not a monologue

Curley then highlighted a few of the Post’s most advanced video programs. The most popular, and one I’m personally obsessed with, is OnBeing. And anyone who hasn’t checked this out definitely should to see what “newspapers” are doing today. And what they expect out of their reporters and storytellers.

He also demo’d LoudounExtra.com, the Post’s big push into hyper-local journalism. And if anyone thinks this equate to lower quality journalism, then check out Bill Snead’s work.

In the future newsroom, Curley predicts:

  • Newspaper people will just be “journalists” or “reporters.”
  • All duties will change drastically
  • All journalists must know how to do audio and video
  • All journalists will have to read comments on their stories.
  • They must embrace in a positive manner their changing roles and responsibilities.
  • Mindset is more important than skillset
  • But, must also have multimedia skills.

Curley really stressed this last point. And he delivered a somewhat harsh critique to his college audience. He said he still hears too many college grads coming into the office talking about the stories they’ve written, and not enough about the multimedia skills they have and what they want to do online.

“I sit in these interviews,” Curley said. “And none of you say that.”

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