Young journalists told they're becoming 'miniature news services'

Published on Tuesday, 3 October 2017 20:56
Written by Skyler Frazer

Staff Writer

NEW BRITAIN - Central Connecticut State University joined campuses and organizations across the nation Tuesday in celebrating National News Engagement Day.

A panel that included Matthew Kauffman, an investigative reporter for the Hartford Courant; Rebecca Baker, president of the Society of Professional Journalists; and Mike Savino, president of the SPJ’s Connecticut branch, spoke to journalism students about the changing tide of media in the country and the challenges professional journalists face with the growth of social media.

Tom Puleo, a professor at CCSU, first asked the panel about their views on individual reporters becoming “miniature news services” - often having to take on photo, video and design responsibilities with their work.

“We have more reporters than we do photographers and videographers,” said Baker, who is also deputy head of news for the New York Daily News.

Baker said the Daily News often tells its stringers, or freelance reporters, to take video and photographs when they go on assignments.

“We’re all feeding digital. … Digital rules. It’s digital first, it’s digital primary, because that’s where people get their news,” Baker said.

Kauffman said that being a “one man show” was not always the case for journalists.

“In the Courant’s newsroom 10 years ago, our photo staff would not let you get near a photograph. If you took the greatest photograph ever, then they’d say: ‘Well, where’d you take that? We’ll go and we’ll take it,’” Kauffman said.

The panel also spoke about the importance of video content and putting work on social media.

“Nowadays you really have to think about all these different ways to engage your readers, your viewers, your listeners,” Savino said, referring to content on Facebook and Snapchat.

Kauffman spoke about the challenge media outlets have of providing content their readers want while still making money.

“The news media has been exceedingly good at giving away its product for free,” Kauffman said about things like Facebook Live.

Savino shared a similar concern as Kauffman.

“When I do my Facebook Live videos, that’s something that I think about,” said Savino, who also works as a reporter for the Record-Journal. “I try not to give too much, I try to give just enough that I can piqué someone’s interest. I always make sure to mention our website and hopefully we can drive some traffic that way.”

The panel warned of print media going too digital, though. The Columbia Journalism Review published a story last week about Mic, a news organization that recently made the switch to all video content. Mic’s monthly readership has tanked since the switch, a sign that people may prefer a mix of writing, video and photographs with the content they consume.

“A lot of people read their news at work … and they can’t watch a video when they’re working … they can scroll through a slideshow and read text while they’re at work,” Baker said, calling video content a “double-edged sword.”

Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5076 or by email at

Posted in New Britain Herald, General News, New Britain on Tuesday, 3 October 2017 20:56. Updated: Tuesday, 3 October 2017 20:59.