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April 7, 2009, 9 a.m.

Richard Koci Hernandez: No room for wusses in the newsroom!

Here’s the second excerpt from our interview with Richard Koci Hernandez. Here he talks about overcoming his natural fear of technology:

This is not a time for wusses! Those that survive and continue to tell stories in the future are going to have to get their hands dirty more than they ever did. I’m not ever saying that our job was ever easy. It’s not easy to be a reporter, it’s not easy to be a photographer, it’s not easy to be a storyteller in general. But I don’t think that, with the tools, with the technology, with the way everything is going, is that we have — we can’t just sit back any more. There’s going to be a lot of hard work for everyone, no matter.

Full transcript after the jump.

The idea of technology is something that I hear people talk about, that people ask me about — software, tools, how much we need to learn, do I need to learn this, do I need to learn that. The one thing I always go back to — because I like to look at it in more of a holistic or a whole idea in terms of technology — I go back to the idea, the television show when I was young was Star Trek, and the earpiece in the ear. And the idea that I would look at that, and there was absolutely no way I ever thought that that would come to fruition. And now it’s just a part of what we do — there’s no question.

And just living now — the last few years have seen tremendous change in technology, in software. So the one thing I realize, you know, is that that’s always going to change. And it’s going to change constantly. AniIt’s going to change quicker than ever. And the tools we’re going to have next year, I can’t even dream them up. I can’t even imagine what they are.

So my approach to technology is basically: Just don’t be afraid of it. Try not to get — so if I’m not afraid of it, then however it changes, I’m going to be ready for it. And ultimately what I found in technology and all of the software is that you just have to get in. And on the level that we’re playing in, you can open up a project — you can open up software like Final Cut Pro, which I did, and I was scared. I was so scared. I looked at just the layout on my screen — I’m like, I can’t do this, this is just too much.

But when you go in with the idea: Well, the truth is I’m probably only going to need four or five of these tools — four or five of these little tricks and actions, and I can get my job done. The same with Photoshop — I was a photographer for 15 years. I knew four things in Photoshop. Four! That’s all I needed to know! Thank goodness in journalism that was about it — you really didn’t touch the tool a lot for ethical reasons. But it also set me up for the idea: Well, if I can use Photoshop, this very complicated program, and get the pictures the way they should be using only four tools, I can do the same in Final Cut.

But I think ultimately what I am trying to say is: Whatever it is, don’t be afraid of it. Don’t get attached to it, because it’s going to change. And when it changes, just don’t be afraid of it. Know you are going to have to learn something.

This is not a time for wusses! Those that survive and continue to tell stories in the future are going to have to get their hands dirty more than they ever did. I’m not ever saying that our job was ever easy. It’s not easy to be a reporter, it’s not easy to be a photographer, it’s not easy to be a storyteller in general. But I don’t think that, with the tools, with the technology, with the way everything is going, is that we have — we can’t just sit back any more. There’s going to be a lot of hard work for everyone, no matter — and I don’t think it has anything to do with age at all. I think that it takes that energy that I know I had, that I can relate to when I was in college — staying up until two in the morning in the dark room, processing black and white — you know that energy. Even during the conference, you know, I made sure I brought books so that I can learn something while I was here. Last night or this morning, I got up and I looked over my After Effects tutorials. You know, I’m trading particular points in my life, where I may have turned the TV on and sipped my coffee and watched CNN and done things — to now, you know, CNN might be on in the background, but right on my laptop is a Final Cut tutorial. So I’m taking every little opportunity to learn.

POSTED     April 7, 2009, 9 a.m.
PART OF A SERIES     Nieman Narrative Conference 2009
PART OF A SERIES     Richard Koci Hernandez
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