Journalists Are Story-Tellers, Right?

So this all began with some thoughts about who makes the best programmers, and I like people who can tell a story, for all the reasons mentioned here and by others.

Then again, whose job is it to tell stories on a daily basis? Right – kindergarten teachers. But we’re not really here to talk about them.

Roland Legrand, who probably hasn’t read this blog, arrives at the same story-tellers-as-programmers thesis but from a different direction: learn programming to become a better journalist. Oh, and survive.

As we’ve said before, learning to program is not really about learning to program. It’s about understanding, at least in some sense, the internals of these devices we insist more and more making our lives dependent upon. It’s about training oneself to be a non-linear thinker in that there is more than one route to get someplace, and a single route can take you to places other than you thought you would get to.

Sometimes you can tell a good story in three paragraphs (obviously, I can’t). It’s not that the stories have become more complicated, but the multitude of sources that may make up any single story is exponential. Ok, no it’s not, it’s linear, but ‘exponential’ sounded more dramatic. In the future, wait – now!, stories should be told not only with good prose but become more of an experience, integrating many of the extras (reference, location, identity, interactivity) we now take for granted. You can write 3500 words on how a Space Shuttle Engine works or just show me .

Legrand’s real point is not so much about education as it is about job security. Once upon a time all a reporter would have to do is report, not even tinkering with his Underwood was required. Yet those days are as long gone as the Underwood itself. A journalist who can’t adapt her telling of the story to the media (is it the message or is it the medium?), or use new media to tell the story, will probably have to find a new job.

I’d suggest programming.


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