“Newspaper columnists ought to be the perfect bloggers.”

I’m ashamed to admit that Robert Niles has a point, but what happens to the genuine, insightful journalists who are just not technologically savvy? After reading this article, I have been given the assumption that those who do want a lucrative career in journalism are already determined to learn the tools of the trade, even if the tools are incredibly advanced and complex. The basic knowledge of how to operate a computer has been outdated and challenged by the ability to function all aspects of technological media.

Shakespeare's digital query.

 “Anyone writing online needs to come to this understanding: That what matters most in determining your online success is how your work is understood and acted upon by its audience – more than what your intention with the work was or the process that you used to create it. You can do work you believe to be great, but if no one reads it or no one who does cares, what was the point?”

This ‘point’ Niles refers to only continues to sharpen as writers competitively thrive to get their work noticed. If the power, knowledge and resources are so accessible, why not utilize them to the fullest extent? One may argue that this innovative approach to journalism only serves as a hindrance. A reader of this article responded and commented:

“I personally am not happy with this development. Now, columnists are forced to spend half of their precious time to fumble with twitter and “incite conversation”, instead of working harder to make their columns more entertaining or enlightening or whatever.

I think a column should be a masterpiece of clear thinking and excellent writing, while blogging should be more informal and conversational.”

Is it just me or should any writing that attempts to attract a large audience be informal and conversational? I believe there is no need to express certain subject matter in a sense of being formally uptight. It is possible to maintain professionalism while illustrating topics with clarity, sophistication and wit.

Columns, for example, are meant to attract particular audiences regarding topics that said audiences care about.  Is it not possible to publish a column through a blog and consider it a ‘masterpiece of clear thinking and excellent writing’?  I would have to agree with a second reader’s response who commented:

“If a columnist is not able to publish good content (meaningful, interesting, provocative, amusing, enlightening content) or doesn’t even bother to have a blog or a Twitter account, he or she cannot be trusted to be a good columnist in the first place (even if it appeared so before the blogging & twitting era).”

Niles concluded his article by mentioning a factor that all human beings should be driven by — passion.

Once you’ve engaged a few readers in a meaningful conversation on a topic about which you are passionate, you’ll find continuing that conversation across multiple media a engaging pleasure, not a time-sucking chore. Readers will see that, and want to jump in themselves, if only just to watch. Your success will elicit more success and your online community will grow.

All aspiring (and professional) journalists should aim to be multi-faceted, no matter their concentrated work. We are given the abilities and potential to enhance what we already have, even if what we have may not be much.

So yes, modern journalists should be expected to learn and use digital journalistic techniques.

Time to get hands-on.