How social media points the way forward for journalism. It’s a real example of how traditional media are becoming social media-aware and are using Facebook, Twitter and their ilk to get the news stories out faster and with more information.
However, what really registered with me is at the very end of the article.
There is a word of caution that goes with trusting what we read on this great “word of mouth” network. Recent rumour mill stories on Facebook on the private lives of footballers ended up in the press and were proven to be totally wrong. So while this new technology can speed up the newsgathering process, journalists will need to make sure they do what they have always done – double check the facts.
I have real concerns about the loss of the old news media. Obviously there’s no single cause but the rise of new media, the Internet “no cost” expectation and the “now” culture are all taking the toll. But what will be the cost to our society when we no longer have professional journalists?
What will happen to investigative journalism? What will happen when hysterical but unfounded rumours sweep across the social networks? How will politicians be held to account when there is no-one to report on their mistakes? How much more easy will it be to cover stuff up?
I can’t think of a single other instance where it’s become acceptable for amateurs to take over the role of professionals. Would you want an amateur doctor to treat you? An amateur engineer to design a bridge? An amateur firefighter to attend an emergency? No, I want these people to study for years to become competent at what they do. Why should journalism be any different? Just because you can string a sentence together, doesn’t make you a journalist.
Now, you may think that it’s a bit rich coming from a blogger for a major new media site but to tie this back to the original news story, I think it genuinely points the way ahead. We have to get away from old media v. new media, it has to be co-opetition not competition, symbiotic not parasitic, and we have to find a way to reward news organisations and professional journalists to keep doing what they’re doing.
I don’t have all the answers, but I do know is that it will be social disaster if we lose professional journalists because we were too cheap to buy a newspaper.
If newspapers are going to beat the odds and continue to exist they must keep evolving. Some have learned their lesson as evidenced by even small town papers having decent websites. They cannot stand still though as the internet is not static. If they try to keep their online edition of the paper the same for years they will keep losing their backsides. They need to keep up with the online space by melding into it. The success of prominent bloggers is partially due to old media, without which bloggers don’t have much to talk about. That will change as well because old media & new media will take parts of each other’s qualities in order to profit. Some online sites have their own insiders to get news tips so they don’t need to read mainstream newspapers or watch the talking heads on TV to get their information.
Podcasts, blogs, & online video are essential to newspapers surviving. If smaller papers don’t have the people or ability to do video or podcasts they better hire the people who can provide help. If not they are still just something to read. If you haven’t noticed there are a ton of people who simply hate reading, which is terrible, but nonetheless, a fact. Many folks would rather just watch a video or listen to a podcast with the same info as what they would have to read. Our small town paper is moving in the right direction but still has no video or podcasts. They have added rss feeds & the ability to comment on some articles which should have been done a long time ago. All they needed to do was hire the right person to point them in the right direction. But when you get set in your ways it is hard to turn around the ship. Another local news website is using more media formats and even had video available from the local presidential rallies in town. I don’t think they even have a print edition as they tend to have a relationship with the local radio station and may even be owned by the same company. It will be interesting to see which one flourishes especially with the slowdown in the economy.
I sure hope the IQ of new media consumers is higher than that of the average old media watcher. I do not watch much news on TV. It is a waste of time. Well last night my friend is telling me about gas going up. We are in Georgia. So apparently the hurricane has disrupted a refinery in the Gulf of Mexico ….again. The talking heads on the news are saying gas will be in shorter supply and the price will rise. They say you might want to fill up before it happens. Well this sends the thundering herd of idiots out to line up at the gas stations. What do you think happens when people are lined up to buy a product whether or not there is a shortage? The freaking price is going up big time. If I am a barber & I see a line of people out my shop doors, I only have time to do so many haircuts. So my time becomes more valuable so I can raise the price. Supply & demand people! I have no doubt the news people are right when they say prices will rise but they cause a panic by promoting fear as usual. So the prices go way beyond what they would naturally. New media providers are hopefully more responsible than the old school TV people. They don’t have to promote one bad thing after another to keep consumers watching or listening. What if CNN said that drinking bleach is absolutely necessary for good health? I bet 5% of the population would wake up dead the next morning! The herd mentality has to stop. If all I can do as a part of new media content is call out people for doing dumb things so be it.