With regard to my previous essay, a writer contacted me, asking "Should we be training computer science majors in journalism (or vice versa)?" I sent the following response via e-mail:
Ideally, journalism schools would address the need for journalists who can capably produce automated Web applications. But I realize that manipulating databases and writing code isn't for everybody, just as donning make-up and appearing on TV isn't for everybody. "Journalism via computer programming" is a specialty.
Furthermore, I don't think it's necessary for somebody to have formal journalism training in order to do well in this emerging field. (The heresy!) At the various news Web sites where I've worked, the best coworkers I've had were *not* journalism majors; they studied computer science or had wacky majors like literature or psychology. And, whaddya know, despite their lack of journalism background, these people had no problems understanding the basic need for ethics, fairness and accuracy. It's not like the basics of journalism are hard to learn.
Regardless of what happens in the j-schools, though, one more important thing needs to happen before "journalism via computer programming" can become widespread: Newsrooms need to welcome technical people with open arms and give them an environment in which they can thrive. Treat techies as bona fide members of the journalism team -- not as IT robots who just do what you tell them to do. Let them be creative. Give them interesting problems to solve. Trust them.
Even if j-schools start producing genius computer programmers, or if it becomes trendy for computer-science majors to seek employment at newspaper Web sites, newspapers will need to change their attitudes, culture and resource allocation if they want these people to stick around. Otherwise, they'll pack their bags after a couple of months and go work for Google.