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Hats off to the old-school journalists

Ashleigh Fryer, Senior Editor
1:30 pm PDT April 14, 2014

I was met with a rude awakening on Monday of last week; the reality of a journalist’s world without a phone or Internet connection. 

Granted, I should not have been so surprised with my inability to function in a newsroom sans technology, but as I reflect on it now, I realized that myself and many others have come to use technology as a safety blanket, rarely noticing how tightly we cling to it in times of need.

A Verizon power pole became disabled during some routine construction, leaving my office, along with many others in Malibu, without their landlines or Internet until late Monday night. 

Attempting to rouse up story ideas for the following week’s paper, figuring out how to stay in touch with sources and freelancers and even trying to figure out where to go for lunch was difficult. For the first time I felt how members of older generations, who weren’t raised with the barrage of technological devices we rely on every day, must feel on a constant basis. Whereas they might feel hampered by their inability to operate certain devices, I felt hampered, almost useless, without the conveniences that those devices provide. And that was just for less than 24 hours. 

It got me thinking; throughout my college career, I was told by professors and editors and interns by the dozens that the true mark and gift of the modern-day journalist is our handle on technology, our innate familiarity with social media and our ability to keep in stride with the constant changes to our technological landscape. 

Tweet more, post more, link more — I was told these things were what was going to land me my first job out of college and make me more competitive than my predecessors. Monday proved that wrong for me.

Although it was only a brief outage in the grand scheme of things, it really reinforced my respect for the journalists who came before me, the ones who are comfortable without an iPhone in their hands, who don’t need Google or Twitter or Facebook to help them get the word out. 

I have always tried to maintain the human connections within my journalism and Monday proved to me that the most useful tool for the modern-day journalist is not the ability to navigate the web, but, instead, the ability to navigate our human environments. 

Even now, as I type this, I am taking full advantage of the technology that surrounds me, but I can trust in the fact that if this screen were to go black, I would be able to dig deep inside of myself and find a way to find the news the old-fashioned way.

So, hats off to all those that came before me in this business. The Internet is relevant, but inter-personal relationship skills are timeless.