“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” – Benjamin Franklin.
Old Benjamin had it spot on – and it’s proven throughout the history of journalism. Imagine if the journalists of old had not gone from the trusty town crier and ventured into the modern, and unknown, world of print. Many, many years later we introduced radio and later was the jump to television.
When you think about it, these were big, big changes. They all faced massive challenges, and I’m sure massive failures -just look at News 24. But now they are the staples of our media landscape, and trusted information delivery systems.
We now face a new challenge – the deep dark hole of the Internet. Vast, unexplored and seemingly infinite. There are people, journalists, who would rather stay in the safe confines of their trusty, unchanging landscape but as with all development, eventually it will arrive on your doorstep. If it knocks politely or barges in with force depends on how acquainted you have become with it. Unfortunately this applies to all types of change.
People are calling this change Journalism 2.0, but it should really be up to version 10+ by now. To call it a new version is to say it’s superseding something outdated, that may not be totally true. Television did not replace radio, even though they both use sound as a medium. Pod-casting has not replaced live radio. So why should the Internet or citizen journalism be the replacement of them all. A major publication in this field is a J-Lab and the Knight Citizen News Network produced book – Journalism 2.0, which can be found here.
This quote from the introduction sums up the theory around new media journalism.
“There has never been a time that offered so many powerful ways to tell stories and serve readers with information. If you love journalism, you have to love having more tools at your disposal, more interaction with your audience and the near disappearance of traditional constraints of time and space.”
The book goes on to talk about the changing market place, advertising and information access. But I think this is the core of the transformation which is happening today, the ducks nuts if you will.
“This product in all its forms — journalism — is worth saving. It creates community on so many levels. And it creates marketplaces that are essential to the continuing viability of entire companies. Newspapers had a virtual monopoly on their marketplaces for decades. That’s ending now so the trick is to create new marketplaces before old ones completely disappear. Not necessarily to replace them right away, but to complement and support them.”
So if this is the destination, who are the road builders. To answer this question I’ll call on Professor Mark Briggs’ blog post here . Prof Briggs has two degrees in Journalism, a masters and a bachelor’s. He has built new media divisions over many different publications in the US. This blog post is aptly named ‘Beyond J-school’ and talks about how education institutions should be encouraging students to be diverse in their delivery of content.
“Unfortunately, evolution in journalism schools has often moved slower than in the professional industry (which can be glacial itself). It is somewhat understandable, since tenured professors who are experts in their fields suddenly found their field to be less desirable and less relevant than it was just a few years ago. As the demand for new media curriculum has risen over the past decade, many of those professors turned up their noses and discounted new methods, new technology as fads not to be taken seriously.”
According to Prof Briggs, new media is about being diverse in your delivery of content. He says to thrive in new media requires training and at the moment this cross media training comes from self training. The only way I can see to do this in the real world is to regularly make content in a range of mediums. To push your skills to their boundaries and learn something new, to seek out cross media publication at a range of outlets – to train yourself. It’s not unloyal, it’s not disrespectful and it certainly doesn’t put your integrity in doubt. After all, we are all students, and we are here to learn as much as we can while we have the chance.
To finish up I’m going to use one more quote from Journalism 2.0 –
“Change is inevitable. Progress is optional. The future is now.”
Quotes from Journalism 2.0 used under the creative commons license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.