Tom Foremski of the Silicon Valley Watcher has continually called for the need of the media engineer -- an individual who is part journalist and part software engineer -- in today’s web publishing industry. Lately, his vision is becoming reality.

A Shared Vision

First, it’s safe to say that others have shared this vision with Foremski. In May 2009, the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University began giving away full scholarships, plus expenses, to software developers in hopes that with a master’s degree in journalism, they can help invent the future of media and journalism.

Engineering Journalism

However, more recently, there have been indications that media engineers are living, breathing creatures working alongside us, mastering the various skills one needs to blog, video and photo edit, podcast, produce and design successfully.

Like Nick Bilton of the New York Times, who is lead blogger on Bits, the Times tech blog, but has also worked as a user interface specialist and hardware hacker in the Times R&D lab helping to develop the TimesReader. And like the Broadcast Media Engineers LinkedIn group, whose motive is to “bring all Broadcast Media professionals together where they can share new technologies used in broadcasting and their own ideas with other people.”

Media Engineers, explains Foremski,

can leverage that work across the Internet, enabling distribution of content across large numbers of communities, combined with real-time commercialization through multiple revenue channels. …it requires a knowledge of journalism and software engineering skills. It requires a knowledge about quality of content and who is likely to read that content. And it requires a knowledge of the culture of their society and that of individual communities.

Yet, the evolution of media engineers is just the latest transition group. The invention of the web has forced us all to add a little MacGyver to our resume.

The survival of this new breed of journalist is reliant on an individual’s curiosity and diligence to learn new skills, for without it, we’re all just “has beens” of the Internet age.