The Next Generation of News People: “You should start by covering a community for a newspaper.”

From a story on about the next generation of news professionals:

Alec E. Johnson, 35
Editor and publisher, Watertown Daily Times; president and chief operating officer, Johnson Newspaper Corp.
Watertown, N.Y.

Education: Columbia University, master of science, journalism; Dickinson College, bachelor of arts, political science

What advice do you have for other young professionals in the news industry?

If you are new to the news business, no matter what your intentions are for your future, you should start by covering a community for a newspaper. There you will find editors and reporters committed to reporting news, good and bad, about a town and its residents. Find a mentor, someone who will give you unvarnished feedback and help you identify and achieve your goals. This has been said many times, but a good newspaper should be a mirror of its community. Every day you should be able to pick it up and have something that readers can relate to. Find real people and tell their stories.

How do you bridge the gap between traditional and digital journalism?

A good story is a good story, whether it is published with a photo in print or with an interactive graphic and video on a digital platform. It all starts with the basics, and that’s solid reporting, building trust and relationships with sources so you can go beyond the meeting, or press release to tell the real story. Break news online and use digital to keep in contact with your readers all day. Use the print edition as the final draft of that day’s reporting. Print and digital should be thought as complementary. Although there are many readers who overlap, at the core there are two distinct audiences.

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