New York Times’ video initiative calls for changes in broadcast journalism education

To be hired as a video producer at New York Times, one needs to “have a little more of a specialized perspective of the content and make it excellent,” and that content is not just news section subjects such as crime, politics and foreign policy.

New York Times recently launched an ambitious initiative to bring more videos to the newspaper’s content lineup. In a recent interview, the newly appointed video director talks at length about NYT’s video content strategies. A few points the director made caught my attention, that if NYT’s video strategy becomes industry practice, then it calls for changes in how j-schools teach (broadcast) journalism students. 

In a nutshell, NYT will produce more original videos to help with promoting (print) contents. The video director says,

… we have very strong verticals of content. We’ll build programming that aligns with those verticals, that represents the various sections that we have in the paper. We’ll step back and we’ll look at our lifestyle section, we’ll look at arts and culture, technology, and business, and look at more of a channel perspective when it comes to developing video.

Now comes the key point that caught my eyes – when asked about the types of talents NYT will pursue for producing such contents, the director says,

Instead of taking the approach of the filmmaker who can make anything and do it well, we’re going to find filmmakers who have a little more of a specialized perspective of the content and make it excellent.

Reading this, my question is – currently, are journalism schools preparing broadcast journalism students, or journalism majors in general, for such jobs? In addition to required courses in video productions, are students being required to develop expertise in specific content areas such as lifestyle, culture, technology, business?

In a previous post, I argued that journalism schools need to expand their curriculum focus of training journalists for news media to include content training. Now the New York Times’ video initiative seems to substantiate my argument – even for a pure news media such as NYT, that type of non-news, “soft” subject knowledge is still valued and needed.

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About Mu Lin

Dr. Mu Lin is a digital journalism professional and educator in New Jersey, United States. Dr. Lin manages an online marketing company. He also manages MulinBlog Online J-School (, a free online journalism training program, which offers courses such as Audio Slideshow Storytelling; Introduction to Social Media Marketing; Writing for the Web; Google Mapping for Communicators; Introduction to Data Visualization; Introduction to Web Metrics and Google Analytics.
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