Graduates take a social media tour – the immediate future of journalism?

November 22, 2009

Two graduating students from AUT’s journalism programme are traveling up and down (mostly up) New Zealand filing stories, video, photos and blogs for the New Zealand Herald website.

Andrew Hughes and Olivia Wix on tour

Olivia Wix and Andrew Hughes were selected to undertake the three week summer tour with a focus on the job market for young people and graduating students.

This is an interesting experiment for the that involves Andrew and Olivia in doing their own VJ work, tweeting and posting updates to Facebook as well as to the news website.

It’s one of the first serious attempts to harness social networking and social media in the New Zealand news market and I don’t know if it will lead to full-time work for Olivia and Andrew, but it could be a harbinger of how journalism graduates might have to work in the future.

Of course, I don’t want to over-sell it and many of my graduating 2009 class are working already in more traditional journalism jobs in local newspapers up and down the nation; in radio and television newsrooms and in trade and niche publications. Though I have noticed a growing number of online-focused positions becoming available, both within the MSM and in smaller publishing houses. — the online portal for all of the Fairfax papers in New Zealand is in the process of hiring a social media editor for its Wellington newsroom. This is following the lead of several overseas publications, including the New York Times.

One of my 2009 graduating students, Jess Harkins is campaigning hard for this job. “Good luck, Jess”.

On one level hiring cheap young graduates to travel around the country by bus to file quick stories might be seen as a cynical marketing ploy to scrabble back some of the Gen Y audience that has all but deserted newspapers in favour of social media. However,  but you could also defend it as a smart move that not only opens up this demographic and reaches out to them in their own space and language, but one that also creates opportunities for new story ideas, sources and leads to find their way into the news mix.

You can follow Andrew and Olivia from their first Herald story, but also on Twitter and Facebook.