A new kind of journalism
The BBC's Robert Preston said the future of journalism will see: "..the traditional distinctions between television journalists, radio journalists and print journalists are quite close to being obsolete. This has huge operational implications for all media companies and also for regulation of the industry."
As Preston suggests there is drastic shift happening in the abolished "norms" of the medias many mediums. Newspaper journalists no longer just type up copy, radio journalists no longer just record, photographers no longer just take still images and videographers no longer just do video work.
As the web evolved, so has the modern journalist. In other generations a journalist would use telephones, e-mail and select private interviews to get stories, but nowadays things are much different. The journalist of today has to be multi-skilled and capable of multi-tasking. Mashable.com's Vadim Lavurisk puts forward traits for the journalist of tomorrow, suggesting that they will have to be a programmer, blogger, a multimedia storyteller, business savvy along with all the original fundamental journalist qualities. He writies: "Because of cutbacks at many news organisations, the jobs available are highly competitive. News companies are seeking journalists who are jacks of all trades, yet still masters of one (or more). 2010 will likely be a time of transition as today's journalists catch up to learn the multimedia, programming, social media, and business skills they'll need to tell their stories online. These new skills are especially relevant to start-ups that are looking to hire multi-skilled and social media-savvy journalists."
Whether or not Lavurisk is right remains to be seen, but it is undoubtedly true that print journalists are having to adapt new media and the online world.
Every outlet is converging - newspaper journalism in particular has been affected by this shift and so print journalists are being forced to adapt because of it. Many newspaper groups have made the shift or are making the shift towards multimedia. Some have trained their own journalists to usecto the various forms of multimedia - however as these print journalists have been just freshly trained, the quality of their output can vary greatly.
Some newspapers like the Telegraph turned to major news network ITN (which produces for Channel 4, Channel Five, National Geographic and the Discovery Channel) to make video content for their website. This has become an increasingly popular trend in the newspaper world throughout the globe. Every journalist - in order to be effective in this social internet - will have to be a multimedia journalist. This however creates problems for those in this roles. Not that long ago if a print reporter was asked to take photographs for the newspaper, representatives from both the photographer's and reporters' unions would show up and argue that wasn't "my client's job."
Which, fair enough, if it states in your contract that you do not have to take photos, then you shouldn't be needed to. However the concept of journalism is one that is forever changing and being a journalist is also being adaptive enough to go with that dynamic. No more than ten years ago was the idea of a journalist recording his own video recording or editing almost inconceivable. Now it is part of the accepted journalist skillset. Modern content creators are omni-present in all forms of media and this is also the case with media schools expanding their courses to include multimedia. And in one of the most unprecedented quantum leaps of amateur journalism, these content creators, some unversed in traditional media (which some argue is a good thing), do it all.
They shoot the video, edit it on their laptop computer, upload it to their site and YouTube and even market it themselves. Simply by posting a link to their twitter, Linkedin, Bebo or Facebook will it be shared until it goes viral. Veteran journalists argue that this will ultimately destroy "quality journalism" replacing it with dumbed down, amateur reporting. Nowadays anyone can be a citizen journalist – a both sad and great fact. However that's where it ends. It is down to the journalist and news organisations to ensure they remain a respected profession and medium. As mentioned earlier journalism itself is forever changing and shadows the trends of society.
Stepping outside of the world of the media for a minute, the above sentiment rings true with many newspapers and the state of social media, but looking back on it, this is a statement that has been made time and time again - no one could have predicted it and the effect it was going to have. Twenty years ago newspapers faced competition from the explosion of TV which they survived only for this to be followed by the internet.
When the BBC first started out in the early 1920s it was the world's first national broadcasting service. Starting with a staff of four and financed by the British Post Office, the BBC began as an outlet for six different radio manufacturers to experiment with new technologies. It soon established itself as the benchmark for all broadcasting services within the UK and Europe.
This BBC trend continued with the advent of television and later the internet. In the late 1990s they saw the potential for in online and invested heavily in their own website. They were one of the first major media organisations to do so and now the BBC website is one of the world's premier online news outlets.
Newspapers cannot be blamed for not investing in the world wide web back in the 1990s, but it is fatal for them not to do so now. Years ago printing presses were all ran manually and no one could think that a computer would run them, yet unexpectedly today it is standard for a computer system to operate a network of printing presses all over a country. Ten years ago not many print journalists would fathom that they, the reporter, would now be running around with a camera in one had and a dictaphone in the other trying to get that juicy multimedia scoop.
Journalism isn't dead, it's not dying and it isn't broken either – it's evolving, adapting and moving forward like never before.
It's a brave new media and it's here to stay.
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