Jim Van Nostrand
Photo Linked From: http://media.mcclatchydc.com/smedia/2007/06/17/00/429-vannostrand_100.thumb.prod_affiliate.91.jpg
Written by MGP student researcher Jennifer Heshion, May 2009
While newspapers fight for survival in a tough economy Jim Van Nostrand, a web editor for McClatchy Washington Bureau, is ahead of the game in the popular world of online journalism because he embraced the web back in 1995.
"I'd been doing this for 14 years which seems like an eternity in this business," said Jim Van Nostrand, a web editor for McClatchy Washington Bureau.
Previously Van Nostrand had worked as a senior web editor with Knight Ridder Digital in Washington, D.C., which in 2007, was acquired by McClatchy, the third-largest newspaper company in the United States. After a redesign McClatchy launched their current website in 2007, of which Van Nostrand became one of four members on staff.
Due to the current economic crisis, print journalism, and newspapers in particular, are having a difficult time, according to Van Nostrand. The way of getting news to the public is changing rapidly he said with the popular focus shifting from print towards the web.
Believing that the use of new technology seems to be the way the journalism industry is going, Van Nostrand said that people should recognize the trend and welcome the use of a different medium for getting the news to the public.
"The web is about the information business," he said. "I jumped on because it is an exciting opportunity. The Internet is about shaking technology. There is still a digital divide out there. I view the web as one distribution channel for information. Information is going to get to people via the channel they choose."
As an adjunct professor at American University in Washington, D.C., Van Nostrand cautions the students in his Digital Storytelling class to avoid the perils of opinion-based journalism which can be easy to fall into especially with the freedom of blogging online.
"There are people blogging who are doing no original reporting," he said. "They are just spewing facts. If you are training to be a journalist and you are blogging, you need to be very circumspect of what you say."
Van Nostrand added that McClatchy's high standards for objective reporting had vilified the news group amongst its peers while the Bush White House was busy selling the Iraq war to the public. He said that McClatchy was one of the only websites publicly criticizing the Bush administration for their assurances of the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. While most of the media accepted at face value what the White House was claiming, he said that McClatchy was labeled as "unpatriotic" and "liberal" by their peers for printing negative stories about the Bush administration.Many news outlets, he said, were afraid to run stories criticizing the government but McClatchy consistently published many noteworthy stories detailing the abuses of power. Keeping one's objectivity intact is crucial for aspiring journalists Van Nostrand said.
"There are a lot of journalists who are scared to go past face value," he said. "The truth was out there and people didn't listen."
Remaining objective and raising the necessary questions has earned Van Nostrand two McClatchy President's Awards, which is the company's highest honor for the finest work in journalism. He was honored for his involvement in two projects for McClatchy. The first project, "Inside Iraq," was a blog he had launched in 2007 while the second one titled "Beyond the Law," detailed the abuses in U.S. detention camps in Afghanistan and Cuba's Guantanamo Bay.
A former infantry captain in the U.S. Army, Van Nostrand has served in the First Infantry Division in Germany and in the National Guard in Oregon and Pennsylvania.