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Journalism Gets Digital

Carole Tarrant, editor of the Roanoke times, was recently brought to Radford University by The School of Communication to speak at the third annual Communications Week. A room of almost 100 chattering students’ faces illuminated by their cell phones filled the room Monday evening to hear about, “Journalism in the Digital Age.”

With technology advancing like the speed of lightening sometimes it’s hard to stay up to date on the newest evolution of bigger and better technology, no matter how hard the world tries.

Tarrant began her keynote speech with no hesitation; she started with an introduction to what measures The Roanoke Times has been taking to build a future in the digital age. Reaching 200,000 adults, The Times has only skimmed the surface of the digital world by creating etimes, allowing mobile access and sending breaking news alert texts.

As a West Virginia University graduate of 1986 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism, Tarrant has had her share of journalistic experiences over the years. After working all over the United States from North Dakota to Alabama and Florida, she became managing editor of the Times in 2005 and onto editor in 2007. Having always been a part of the journalism world, Tarrant has had a lot of experience in the progression of the journalism field.

“We are looking for answers in digital,” she said.

Many students are looking for answers too, not just for the digital age but for future careers.  Once a student herself, Tarrant came prepared to share her experiences over the years by giving tips about jobs to RU students. Some tips on how to get a job or keep a job that she explained were:

  • Invest in yourself
  • Be and stay flexible
  • Be ambitious
  • Think like an entrepreneur
  •  And always do what your professors say.

“You have to be a continuous learner. Just know you’re in journalism don’t get so focused on what you’re doing now, don’t do just one thing be flexible,” said Tarrant.

Tarrant explained that the journalism field is always growing and creating new jobs, in order to know that there are many jobs you have to be on Twitter and Facebook. “If you’re on Twitter or Facebook, I hope you are, if you’re in journalism you better be,” she said.

With advances in technology many still wonder, is there still a future for print? Tarrant believes that there will always be a want or need for print in the future, most defiantly in the next five years.  She expressed that the journalism world tends to forget what’s really important in print when we are chasing digital.

Many students, the majority of which were communications majors there for credit in their courses, attended but left with more than they had expected.

“I think that I just wanted to listen to all of the changing technologies in journalism. I am not very tech savvy, so I think that this was a pretty neat experience,” said Keelia McCaffrey, Journalism Major.

However there will always be differences in the world of digital and the world of print, for some it may come easy and for some it may come harder to catch up with advances but ultimately it’s all journalism.

“You don’t get into journalism for the money, if you don’t love, don’t do it,” she said at the end.



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