I spent a few months over the summer working as an intern at my local newspaper in South Devon.
Something I was often told by older journalists was how the industry was changing for the worse – the most common moan of which was ‘all our interviews these days are done over the phone – there’s no more face to face.’ Which was generally followed by ‘I miss getting out and about and meeting people. Instead I spend all day sat at a desk.’
I listened with a sympathetic ear to what these hard-working journalists had to say and I didn’t realise at the time just what a pessimistic influence they were having on me. But this week – I had an epiphany.
These aren’t sad times for journalism.
The entire industry is changing dramatically: “professionals and amateurs (are now) working together to get the real story, linking to each other across brands and old boundaries to share facts, questions, answers, ideas, perspectives.” Jeff Jarvis
But – we need a balance.
Never before has online journalism been possible to such an accessible and effective extent. But what it relies on is the contribution of the reporter. Infact rely may not be the right word, perhaps depend would be more suitable. Without the acceptance of these technological advances the journalism industry will be left behind. It is now our job, as student journalists to welcome these advances with open minds, and to do everything we can to encourage them.
Thankfully, despite my epiphany, a bit of the old newsroom is establishing a stubborn hold on me. Journalism is a profession based on the real world. Not on cyberspace. We can use these online tools to our advantage but we need to listen to what the ‘old’ journalism ‘types’ have got to say. We need to juxtapose the old journalism methods with the modern ones.
Tessa Mayes (campaigning investigative journalist): “We’re in danger within journalism of losing and forgetting what it is that we do and what it is that we need journalism to do in society. Journalists are simply becoming information managers.”
I don’t want to be an information manager, I want to be a journalist.
But the key word in all this is balance. We need to balance old journalism techniques and ideas with new techniques. We need to find balance between the utilising of user-generated-content and the use of stories by reporters. We need to balance the time we spend sitting at our desks with the time we spend interacting with real people, not cyber people.
But, fundamentally – we have to get involved. It might be a shame newsrooms are increasingly desktop orientated but never before have we been able to interact with people on such an exciting level.
“The future is ‘pro-am journalism’, doing things together.” Charile Beckett, Press Gazzette.
“Networked journalism is more than just another glib new media cliché, but it is not an easy option. It means we are going to have to change the way we work and treat the public as partners, not punters.” Charlie Beckett, Press Gazzette.