Here’s another collection of questions answered in public as part of the FAQ section – this time concerning citizen journalism:What effect do you think citizen journalism will have on the future for professional journalists?
It’s already had an impact on their awareness of scrutiny: I’ve heard journalists and editors saying they feel they have to produce better quality journalism and get it right, because they know if they get the facts wrong people will point it out.
It’s also already had an effect on how they work: journalism is becoming more collaborative as journalists realise that many ‘citizen journalists’ either have more expertise on a subject, or first hand experience of an event. But also that ‘citizen journalists’ actually have little interest in being journalists – they’re not in competition.
You could probably also add its effect on the news agenda: if a particular story or aspect of a story is generating a lot of heat online then it is harder for journalists to ignore it – for example the remarks by Trent Lott that initially went largely unreported; or Trafigura.
As the saying goes: the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed. These changes are already here and will probably continue to impact journalism’s future more broadly.Do you think the rise of blogs and social media might endanger aspiring journalists’ employability in the future?
Not any more than the rise of pubs and music venues might endanger aspiring musicians. Blogs and social media are platforms to practise your journalism. In that sense it provides a space to showcase your work and build your contacts and reputation – particularly for people who might otherwise not be able to access jobs in the media because they cannot afford to put themselves through university, do unpaid internships in an expensive city, etc. For those people, it actually improves employability.
There is the danger that some bloggers are exploited by publishers who use their content without payment, but ultimately if they want reliable, high quality content they will have to employ someone. Ultimately, if someone is producing content without payment or employment, it’s generally because they get some reward other than payment or employment – and that means writing what you want, not what you’re paid to.Do you think people being able to write whatever they want on Twitter and similar sites without rules and regulations is necessarily a good thing?
They cannot write ‘whatever they want’ ‘without rules and regulations’. The same laws that apply to what you do offline apply online – in some ways, more so.
There are numerous people who have been arrested, charged, and even sent to jail for things they have said on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere. If they’d said those same things in the pub, they likely would not have faced the same consequences.What do you think the future holds for citizen journalism?
It’s too broad a question to really answer. I don’t think ‘citizen journalism’ is even a phrase that’s widely used any more – so perhaps the future is that we will stop talking about it altogether. We will just talk about journalism, and more often than not it will involve contributions from both professional journalists and non-journalists finding, publishing and distributing information online.
The idea of ‘citizen journalism’ was, in retrospect I think, something of an ego trip by journalists: it came from an assumption that all citizens aspired to be journalists; that their attempts to publish came from a desire to ‘be like us’.
My own experience with Help Me Investigate has been that they don’t: what they want is answers, or simply to communicate with other human beings. ‘Citizens’ show little desire to tell news stories about their discoveries in the same way that journalists do. We’re quite odd that way, really.
The rising tide of microvideo apps for smartphones is an increasing feature in online and mobile news reporting. This podcast looks at what is driving this change, some of the different platforms being used and what this could potentially mean for how news is received and reported in online and mobile forms in the future.
We speak to:
- Michael Downing, founder and CEO, Tout
- Jim Brady, editor-in-chief, Digital First Media
- Neha Manaktala, chief operations officer, Vizibee
- Marc Settle, trainer in mobile journalism, BBC College of Journalism
- Michael Anastasi, vice president and executive editor, Los Angeles Newspaper Group
You can hear future podcasts by signing up to the Journalism.co.uk iTunes podcast feed.
We will have more on Journalism.co.uk next week from the podcast interviewees on this subject.Similar Posts:
- #Podcast – How iPhones to ‘green screen Nokias’ are being used for mobile journalism
- #Podcast: Lessons in mobile-first news from Metro, Breaking News and Circa
- #Podcast – How news publishers are branching out into the ebook market
- #jpod – Celebrating Local Newspaper Week: Innovations in digital at the regionals
- #jpod: The top news stories from Journalism.co.uk, 1 April 2011
When I was 9 or 10, my mom bought me a Smith Corona typewriter around the same time that other kids my age were starting to get computers. When I asked her why she didn't buy a computer, Mom laughed. Computers and the Web, she told me, were just a "passing phase." She grew up with typewriters and wasn't yet ready for a change.
I could see the excitement in her eyes when, shortly after she bought the typewriter, she handed me a book that she used as a young girl when learning how to type.
"Every good journalist," she would say, "should know how to type."
She'd open up to a page and, looking at her watch, would say, "1, 2, 3 ... go!" I'd type out all the lines on the page, trying to type as fast as I could while making as few mistakes as possible. The more I typed, the more I grew to like the clickety-clack sound of the keys and the closer I felt to Mom. I began to think that maybe she was right when she said I didn't need a computer.
I was especially convinced of this after my mom died of breast cancer when I was 11. In trying to hold on to her memory, I tried to hold on to her every belief and make them my own. Computers and the Web, I told myself, were just a passing phase.
Once I got to high school, I discovered AIM and slowly began to peek over the wall I had built between myself and the Web. But as excited as I was about the opportunity to virtually connect with friends, I still wasn't convinced of the Web's importance in journalism. As an aspiring journalist, I viewed it as a threat to the profession I had always wanted to pursue.
Saadia Ahmad/Providence College Mallary Tenore delivered a speech earlier this month at an event celebrating the 75th anniversary of The Cowl, Providence College's student newspaper. I mentioned this during a speech I gave last weekend at an event celebrating the 75th anniversary of The Cowl, my alma mater's student newspaper. I explained that the Web kept creeping into my life, especially when I started writing for The Cowl.
During my first week as a freshman reporter at Providence College, I learned that the editors had just launched the paper's website, thecowl.com. They hung promotional posters around campus, serving as a constant reminder that the new website had launched. Then, my first assignment was about -- you guessed it -- the Internet. My editor asked me to cover the Internet problems students were having due to a series of viruses.
There was no denying that the Internet would become something I'd both cover and use as a student reporter. But part of me still wanted to believe that the Web would never be an integral part of the future of journalism. I wrote an editorial for my hometown newspaper suggesting as much.
Newspapers, I wrote, are "the wave of the future." The need to tell stories, I went on to say, "is about as necessary as having a newspaper in hand while drinking your morning coffee." Reading the story now, I realize how attached I was to the way things were, to a past that I tried too hard to hold on to.
It wasn't until I became editor-in-chief of The Cowl that I started to let go. While I was editor, we began uploading the paper electronically -- a process that proved far more efficient than printing off each page of the paper for the printing company to pick up. As editor of the paper, I was also editor of the paper's website, which I tried to cultivate and grow. Still, the website was in many ways an afterthought, in part because students seemed to prefer the print product to the online product. As Poynter recently reported, this remains true at many college campuses.
During my speech I told current and former Cowl staffers that the popularity of the print campus newspaper in many ways reflects the "bubble" of college life. "In the journalism industry at large, the print product is suffering," I said. "This reality makes that little thing called change all the more important."
Being editor of The Cowl, I told the audience, gave me the confidence I needed to avoid getting trapped by antiquated conventions. It was this confidence that led me to move 1,400 miles away from home after graduating so I could pursue a career not in print, but on the Web at Poynter.
At Poynter, which celebrated its 35th anniversary this month, I have been free to explore and experiment with new online tools. I came upon Twitter, for instance, and decided to find out how it could be used as a tool for journalists. My reporting led to a September 2007 story with a telling lead sentence: "I never thought I'd become a twitterer who twittered tweets." Some readers at the time criticized me for suggesting that journalists should use a tool that had "no journalistic purpose." News organizations have since realized that by using social media, they can find story ideas, share content and reach new audiences in ways that they couldn't before.
Now as an online journalist covering the intersection of media and technology, I see the Web not as a threat, but as an opportunity. The Web has hurt the print product in some respects, but it has also paved the way for change and innovation.
A couple of editors recently shared promising thoughts about how the Web has shaped their view of print for the better. Financial Times Editor Lionel Barber, for instance, said this week that "newspapers still account for a large amount of revenue and rates are higher in print than online. You don't give up on the newspaper. But you have to adapt it to make it complementary with the Web."
As you adapt, you realize that changes can foster new connections and opportunities. If I were still typing away on my Smith Corona, I'd be missing out on so many of the things that connect me to both the past and the present.
The Internet, for instance, helps connect me to The Cowl and the students who write for it. While I couldn't pick up the 75th anniversary issue on campus when it first came out, I could look it up on the Web and feel like I was a part of those 75 years of history. And In writing personal essays about my mom on my blog, I've found a new way to keep her memory alive online.
As for that Smith Corona typewriter, it's in the attic of the house where I grew up, dusty but still there.