A couple interesting items caught my eye at the Times’ Web site today – that is, beyond the news of the day.

First, if you have any curiosity about you, you’ll click over any time you see an op-ed written by Muammar Qaddafi.

Secondly, I enjoyed this conversation with the Times’ interactive team. The Grey Lady has been pushing the boundaries of traditional journalism in recent years – contrary to her stodgy reputation -knocking at the barriers between authoritative and interactive. Of particular interest to me, as a member of The Industry, is the following question:

Advice for the Aspiring Journalist/Programmer

Q. I’m a student journalist trying to break into the journalist-programmer field. I’m curious — what skills do you need to have to be successful in this regard? And what’s the best way to learn them?

— Andrew Dunn, Charlotte, N.C.

 

A. This is a tough question to answer with any specificity because the whole idea of the journalist/programmer is still relatively new, and this community has yet to coalesce into anything like a defined “field.” But for precisely that reason, this is the ideal time to cultivate your inner nerd. As we all know, the future of journalism is online. So those who have a background in journalism and solid technical skills will be in ever greater demand.

Exactly what those technical skills are is more about your interests and aptitude than anything else. There are many paths, and many destinations. The Times’s intimidatingly talented graphics, computer-assisted reporting and multimedia departments, for example, include journalists who are experts in Flash, Geographical Information Systems, video and audio production, databases, data analysis, statistics and even 3D animation. My own extraordinarily talented team is a bit more specialized around Web programming — CSS/javascript on the front end, and Ruby/Ruby on Rails with a sprinkle of Django/Python on the back end.

That’s a technobabbley way of saying there are many different ways in which journalism and technology converge in today’s newsroom.

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