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About The Authors

Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson is a social software consultant and writer who specialises in the use of blogs and wikis behind the firewall. With a background in journalism, publishing and web design, Suw is now one of the UK’s best known bloggers, frequently speaking at conferences and seminars.

Her personal blog is Chocolate and Vodka, and yes, she’s married to Kevin.

Email Suw

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson is a freelance journalist and digital strategist with more than a decade of experience with the BBC and the Guardian. He has been a digital journalist since 1996 with experience in radio, television, print and the web. As a journalist, he uses blogs, social networks, Web 2.0 tools and mobile technology to break news, to engage with audiences and tell the story behind the headlines in multiple media and on multiple platforms.

From 2009-2010, he was the digital research editor at The Guardian where he focused on evaluating and adapting digital innovations to support The Guardian’s world-class journalism. He joined The Guardian in September 2006 as their first blogs editor after 8 years with the BBC working across the web, television and radio. He joined the BBC in 1998 to become their first online journalist outside of the UK, working as the Washington correspondent for

And, yes, he’s married to Suw.

E-mail Kevin.

Member of the Media 2.0 Workgroup
Dark Blogs Case Study

Case Study 01 - A European Pharmaceutical Group

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Interview series:
at the FASTforward blog. Amongst them: John Hagel, David Weinberger, JP Rangaswami, Don Tapscott, and many more!

Corante Blog

Monday, July 28th, 2008

‘Should journalism degrees still prepare students for a news industry that doesn’t want them?’

Posted by Kevin Anderson

Paper Cuts newspaper job cuts blog

Paul Bradshaw invited me on Twitter to answer this question on Seesmic recently, and Paul reported on the responses on his blog. He asked the question in light of a punishing wave of redundancies, many in US newspapers, and hiring freezes and programme cuts in the UK. The blog Papercuts lists 6358 job cuts in US newspapers already in 2008.

Here’s the full conversation:

One of my comments:

So many journalists think ‘If I’m a good writer, that’s all I need’. That’s bullshit. There is an arrogance among journalists about the craft of writing. Journalism students will need more than the ability to craft a good sentence.

not only caught Paul’s attention, but also “twenty-something regional newspaper journalist” Joanna Geary (what’s your new shiny title Joanna?) and my colleague Roy Greenslade. I’m not entirely sure why that hit such a nerve. (The particular comment is in a separate video on YouTube.)

One comment that caught my eye was that of David Cohn:

Partly because news organisations have a culture similar to the military, there’s a chain of command and no leeway to make your own decisions. Journalism schools are equally structured.

That’s interesting, and I think it’s one of the cultural conflicts that I’m seeing as news organisations integrate their digital departments. For my first online journalism job in 1996, I was an army of one. The news director admitted she could manage everyone’s time in the newsroom down to the second except me. My next jobs at Advance Internet ( and the BBC, I was either part of a small team or working in a foreign bureau, far from the command centre. It’s a challenge as we move from these flat, often extremely collaborative, environments to these military environments with a lot hierarchy and rank. In some ways, it’s a sign of the success of the digital departments that they are being brought into the core of the business, but hopefully, the departments can be integrated without losing the collaborative spirit.

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2 Responses to “‘Should journalism degrees still prepare students for a news industry that doesn’t want them?’”

  1. John Zhu Says:

    Kevin. Your observation about going from a team of one or a few, far from the command center, to more hierarchical environments reminds me of an old Chinese saying concerning freedom in relation to distance from authority: The sky is high and the emperor is far away. In my experience, those small-group environments, with relatively little supervision from above, are the best for creativity. I think that’s why a lot of the most creative work in U.S. papers come from their sports departments, since the newsroom brass tend to just leave them along.

  2. Joanna Geary Says:

    Hi Kevin, thanks for the mention.

    My new “just out the wrapper” job title is Development Editor - I introduced myself as such for the first time yesterday. Still getting used to it.

    I think what was interesting about your comment was that it embodied the shift in focus that I think needs to happen with regards to the production of journalism.

    I also worked for a small production company before working at a newspaper and remember having much more leeway to adapt and be flexible in that environment.

    I remember being shocked arriving in a news organisation and learning that there was a whole separate department that would have to set up my email/internet/telephone, rather than me doing it myself. Suddenly a lot of my freedom to innovate and develop things was taken away by a structure that meant I had to make requests and get permission to do things.

    Fortunately that is no longer the case. The traditional heirarchies seem to be breaking down.

    That is not to criticise the existing structures. They were extremely effective for single-platform news organisations with fixed publishing times.

    But as these organisations move to a more fluid, multi-platform structure it seems odd to me that they would continue to impose a way of working developed in another time and environment.