Tag Archives: readers

Journalist Reform

17 Apr

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

Journalism needs reform. All of this reform begins with the ones communicating the news; journalists.

People need to be interested in the news. Not only should they be interested in what is being communicated, but also in the way it is being presented. Jonathan Stray said journalists need to make people want to get “lost” on their sites just like they do on Wikipedia and Facebook. They need to want to invest time on the sites. In other words, the news needs to be presented in an engaging way. It needs to give people the interaction they find on sites that are not news sites.

One ways Stray suggests increasing engagement is through linking. Though much of journalism does not use linking, it is vital, he said, to its survival now. It also increases transparency and credibility.

The media also has to be better at giving people what they want. Journalists must learn to read and listen to the public.

Alfred Hermida thinks journalists need to acquire more skill. It is only like this that they can become entrepreneurs of new ways to communicate stories accurately and well.

He said journalists have to stop thinking “of themselves as wanting to be broadcast journalists, or radio journalists or print journalists: increasingly it’s all the same thing.”

The role of the journalist is changing; that we know. Jonathan Hewett said: “The journalist – at least in general interest media – is no longer the privileged channel, the person who knows more than anyone else and has the contacts. That’s hard to accept. Before the internet, the journalist was an elevated gatekeeper to a world that was more or less closed to the readers.”

He also said there is great reward and potential when journalists take that extra step to engage their readers and interact with them.

Thad Mcllroy disagrees about the whole notion that reform is needed and that print is dying. He said that focusing on the U.S. alone is not enough to truly report on the state of the media.

He said: “When the U.S. media look at the changes in media consumption trends, naturally enough, they tend to focus on the United States. This is terrifically misleading. Newspapers are thriving in countries such as India and China…I say to my friends and colleagues: You should feel blessed. You are part of a revolution in how information is distributed far greater than the invention of the printing press, and certain to have more far-reaching effects.”

Whatever the case may be, the Cub Reporters website makes an excellent point: “The media isn’t the only thing changing. The world of work is changing.”

If the world is changing, the way we journalists think and present information has to change as well.

Journalism’s great experiment

3 Apr

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

“Journalism is not dying, it is just changing,” is what all of my first-year professors told us in J-school.

Advertisements’ cause of death: Yahoo and Craigslist. Newspapers’ cause of death: the Internet.

This is not a new topic.

It is official: Open newsrooms are having conversations with their readers and using social media to obtain feedback and information. Those who stick to traditional journalism shield themselves saying their type of journalism is more analytical and in-depth.

Clay Shirky said, “Journalism has remained so unchanged … that journalists didn’t feel they had to change. As such, there was a general skepticism of online sources. Leads can be found everywhere now, from places you’d never deem credible in the past. Amateur blogs, for one … But, five years ago, if you said you were citing a stranger on the Internet you’d [probably] get yelled at by an editor.”

If it was wrong before, what makes it right now?

Shirky also adds that by linking and becoming more innovative in journalism, newspapers can avoid plagiarism. This is an argument all on its own. Is aggregation plagiarism?

Of course, the media that opts to go digital faces its own challenges such as no or reduced revenue.

Newspapers went steady and even had their readership explode in the 1830s, he said. Part of the reason why newspapers were successful was because there was a scarcity of news. There was only a couple of selected places to get your information. Now, that scarcity of news is gone. Competition has intensified.

Shirky argues the newspaper and print media needs “radical reinvention.”

Julie Moos of the Poynter Institute writes, ““The monopoly era of factory-produced, one-way, institutional journalism has ended.”

Today, what exists is a “democracy of distribution.” Anyone who had Internet can publish or access any information available.

Journalism is not dying, however. “Many students are still choosing to enter journalism programs,” Eunice Chan said.

According to Ernie Sotomayor, careers director at Columbia University graduate school of journalism, the number of applicants to journalism schools is increasing.

What appeals to students even more now is the fact that with the Internet their work is received by a larger audience.

Mathew Ingram writes that people are still looking for journalists who can break down and make sense of what is out there. The readers need someone who can breakdown data and analyze it.

Even if journalism is alive and well, and it is just going through a period of experimentation, journalists must change with it to keep it alive and competitive.

Steve Myers said: “We know we should broaden our network of sources, but we stick to official ones. We know we can connect with the community through social media, but we haven’t signed in to Twitter in months. We know we should think Web-first, but our days are still built around the daily deadline.”

Not only does the journalist have to adapt to new technology and media platforms, but he or she must work on adding value to the craft.

Richard Koci Hernandez, a photographer at the Mercury News, said, “”Right now there’s a huge appetite for multitalented journalists. You have to bring something else to the table.”

In journalism today, you need to show that you can bring value to your work. If you can do multimedia, you’ll have a job. One needs to separate oneself from the average blogger out there.

Gina Masullo Chen said: “Challenge away. We’re fighting for our lives here as an industry. We can’t afford to do anything that doesn’t add value, and figuring out what adds value must be tied to the reader…We must listen to our readers.”

She writes about journalists saying, “I think part of the reason is we assume readers don’t really know what they want or we think what they want isn’t good for them.  That paternalistic model, frankly, hasn’t been working for decades.”

I think it is tough to balance listening to the reader, but keeping the quality of your work. She argues that journalists see world affairs and news about the economy as important, but the readership doesn’t care. People, in my opinion and maybe I am thinking like a “paternalistic” journalist here, are shallow. They want shallow and dumb news. People wonder why the U.S. ranks low in knowledge about international affairs and politics in comparison to other countries, and I believe this will get worse as we continue to go for the “listen to the reader” philosophy.

Maybe the “feed the reader” system hasn’t been working for decades, but I can tell you that through traditional media we had a much more educated public back then than we do now.

I think Ingram is right when he argues that journalism is more about inquiry and analysis rather than a method of publishing. So whether journalism goes digital first and print second is irrelevant, though this will probably happen. The most important issue here is the quality of the work being given.

I very much agree with Brent Cunningham who said, “Sustaining serious journalism in the digital age is a topic of much discussion and experimentation, most of which focuses on the product — the supply side of the information equation. But there will be no solution without demand from a citizenry that understands and values quality journalism.”

Facebook: The new face of journalism

30 Mar

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

“Everyone has one,” is what most will say about Facebook. It is the place where people go to connect, create an image and check up on other people. It is a place where you can collect every face you’ve ever encountered and follow their lives, and where you can post photos you took of yourself shamelessly.

This tool that has managed to connect the planet, except for the Chinese because they have their own version of it, is seen by journalists as a platform. It is a place where they can, as The Next Web website explains, create online communities and engage readers. Facebook is not a place for breaking news like Twitter, but it can still deliver news in a timely fashion and be updated constantly, it argues.

Facebook also allows you to receive notifications, and you choose who you share certain things with. In this respect, Facebook is a lot more private than Twitter.

It has become about building relationships with people and creating dialogue. It is a platform, not only for media, but for protests and other mobilizations of groups.

Vadim Lavrusik calls Facebook a “social newspaper.” He said Facebook helps journalists build their brand, and it helps disseminate information to a large group of people. It can also help tell a story in a multi-media fashion because one can embed videos and other links.

Journalists through Facebook can ask readers questions and involve them in the process of news and provide them with extra analysis.

As a journalist, with Facebook,  you can try to reach an audience of 800 million.

Facebook continues to grow and add applications and new ways to tell stories. You can update from just about anywhere with a mobile device. There is no telling what new things could come up in the future. Things we perhaps have never thought of.

It would be neat if in the future Facebook partnered with Skype to add interaction to the medium between journalists and the readers and audience. If Facebook adds a “live TV” type element, this would further help the timeliness of news and the presentation of it on the spot.

For my blog, I have added an application available under “share” where you can share my blogs on Facebook or Twitter. I don’t have a Facebook. As clever and useful as it may be, I think it is a shallow way of interacting with people. Nothing beats being in a place with another person face-to-face.

Facebook also brings many ethical concerns. Facebook boasts privacy and protecting your profile, yet at the same time is serves as a medium to give out information and leave nothing hidden. Ethical concerns include and are not limited to: conflicts of interests with readership and “friends;” because Facebook is about real time, sacrificing quality for the speed you can spread the information; and having readers contribute and not fact checking. Another concern is that most people communicate through typing. Most of the time email communication for journalists is discouraged because it could be anyone, which undermines credibility, and one cannot distinguish tone in a written message which could make portraying something accurately a problem. Facebook is no different.

I think Facebook could compromise the key values of “acting independently” and “accuracy” in reporting. I also think it cheapens what we do. Facebook and Twitter have strived to give anyone the power to publish, and that is NOT always a good thing.