Coding journalists, are they a dying breed?

There has been a lot of debate lately about the following question. “Must journalists learn how to code?” I have been intrigued by this, ever since I saw the movie Lions For Lambs, directed by Robert Redford.

In Lions For Lambs, there is a scene where a reporter (Meryl Streep) interviews a politician (Tom Cruise). She writes down curls, spirals, stripes etc. as her notes. I always thought she wasn’t paying attention to Tom Cruise, and was pretending to write stuff down. Now I know that what she really did, was write in shorthand. Click here for a picture of her in the movie on imdb.

If you’re interested in shorthand, you can find a lot of info on the wikipedia-page. I want to learn how to write it now.

But will it be a waste of effort???

Nowadays, reporters record conversations with their iPhones to “not forget a single thing”. This is an excuse, I know that ‘cos I also use it. We record with our iPhones because we are lazy. But that’s another topic, for another day.

We don’t write with a pen anymore. Nowadays we tweet in 140 characters, and we write using a keyboard. My typing-speed is a lot higher than my writing-speed. So if I were to take notes on a press conference, I’d rather use my laptop. Doing so, I could easily write an article on the spot and immediately send it to my bosses, long before the old fashioned journalists (who use a pen, yuk!) get home and start writing.

So, should reporters learn how to computer-code?

Learning shorthand might be a waste of effort… Given the keyboard-situation… But we could invent a code, a type of shorthand, for us computer-users! Maybe not with curls, spirals and so, but with just abbreviated words? Or no consonants maybe?  Of just not caring about spelling, that’s also a fast-writing method!

  • I often leave out letters:
f xmple for example
  • I write things down I wouldn’t dream of writing down in my real articles
writig is vrery fast f u spel lik tis Writing is very fast if you spell like this
  • Or you could just forget the big space-key near your thumbs 🙂
andjusttypelikethis.
athomeyoucanaddspaces.
it’sveryliberatingactually
And just type like this.
At home you can add spaces.
It’s very liberating actually
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