By Courtney Doll
This previous winter break, I was fortunate enough to get to take a 17 day trip around Europe with the Missouri School of Journalism. The group of 12 students and 2 professors started off as mostly strangers (a few of us knew one other person coming) but truly became a close-knit group by the end of our trip. We traveled to Prague, Paris, Brussels, Rome, and Vatican City and had an absolutely wonderful time exploring sights, eating local cuisine, and testing out our limited knowledge of the local language.
As part of our trip, we toured media outlets in each location to learn about how the European Media operates. Some of the well known places we toured include McCann Erickson, Reuters, and Vatican Radio. Being a broadcast journalism major, I thought all of these places were cool, but took special interest in one of our stops in Paris, France Televisions.
The buildings of France Televisions automatically caught my eye because of the way they are set up. France Televisions operates 6 different stations from their offices, appropriately titled France 0, France 1, France 2, etc. This hugely contrasted my experiences with stations in the United States, where each station is independently owned and competes against other stations in the area. We have NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, and many other stations in a given area, each covering mainly the same topics and competing for viewers. France Television’s 6 different stations each have different content, but all go out to the same viewing area.
Another huge difference between the two newsrooms shocked me when we went to the web department of France Televisions. They had a HUGE web staff compared to what we are used to here! At KOMU, there is 1-2 people staffing the web desk at all times. Each reporter is required to write a web story when they come back from shooting video out in the field before they can begin editing. The web story is then edited by the Tiger Chair on duty and the reporter goes back and adds more information and their video to the web story once their shift is complete. The France Televisions staff had at least 25-30 people in the web area when we toured. They were all focused on different topics and had multiple projects going on. What shocked me was that being the web editor was their full time job. And that is all they do. They create web stories that are different from what the reporters are currently working on. The topics might overlap, but they are doing independent reporting and writing, which is so different than what I am used to.
Here at the Missouri School of Journalism, we are taught to be Multi-Media Journalists (MMJ), also known as One Man Bands (OMB). Our classes in the broadcast track teach us to write for web and air, how to shoot our own videos and interviews, how to edit on video editing software, and then how to put it all together. We also learn still photography, audio reporting and editing, and social media. That is the way the journalism industry is heading in the United States. Especially with the economy, reporters are expected to be able to do all of the tricks of the trade and do them well. This contrasts largely to a huge web team working independently on different stories than their reporters.
This might have to do with the revolution of social media and the Internet in the United States. Multiple agencies, including Slate.fr, explained to us that Europe as a whole has been slower to adapt to social media and smart phones than we have been here. Less people use Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, especially from their phones. They watch television and read newspapers to get the news, as to where we can load our Twitter feed on our phones in about ten seconds and read the latest breaking news of the minute. Because we are so into social media and being able to access everything at the push of a button, we, as reporters, must learn to use tools like that in our every day jobs. Reporters in France and other countries can specialize and do just web or just television because they have not integrated the newer technologies that we have.
The parts of France Television that we toured were missing the hectic, crowded newsroom feeling that I have come to know and love. Granted, they have many buildings that are very large and newsrooms such as KOMU and the Columbia Missourian are more compact and centralized. However, we were in the studio for the run through of one broadcast and the only people we encountered were two camera operators. No producers, no directors, no audio operators, and not even the camera personality. He was in a different room on a green screen working on his script. The newsrooms we encounter as students at Mizzou are a lot smaller, but seem to run more efficiently. Everyone is in the room together, and the producers can talk to the directors and let them know exactly what they want and need as the news for the day develops. Reporters sit around the newsroom working on stories, able to ask questions, get opinions, and put together exactly what the producers are expecting from them. As breaking news develops, the news desk and shout out and a reporter can instantly grab a camera and head out in a station car to cover the news. While we are on a much smaller scale, it seems practical and efficient to have everyone stationed in a common area to work off of each other.
The opportunity to go tour Europe is one I will always be thankful for. I don’t know that I would have had the chance to visit some of the places we went if it hadn’t been for the Europe Tour. I also know that I would have never gotten to tour prestigious newsrooms, ad agencies, and magazines if we had not been given the opportunity on this trip. I have made some really great friends from the entire process and I would go again in a heartbeat.