Update on the Future of Journalism

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Image courtesy of Google Images

The heart of the matter is that no one can really know what the future of journalism is just as people 20 years ago could not have predicted this would be the future of journalism from then.  The best anyone can do is look around them and predict patterns based on what they see.

Judging from everything around us, technology is taking over the world of journalism.  The Internet is a prominent news medium, delivering news quickly and accurately complete with video and pictures.  No waiting around for the 5 p.m. news; no waiting around for the morning paper.  Instead, we are a few clicks away from constant news updates all the time as often as we want.

 As Brian Solis of TechCrunch wrote in his article, “Can the Statusphere Save Journalism?,” “We’re shifting into a rapid-fire culture that moves at Twitter time.  Attention is a precious commodity and requires a personalized engagement strategy in order to consistently vie for it.  The laws of attraction and relationship management are driven by the ability to create compelling content and transparently expose it to the people whom you believe benefit the most from it.”

The key to catching the attention of an audience is creativity.  Not only do journalists need to report the news, but they need to find new ways of doing it.  They need to provide visual ins for their audiences, something besides just words on a page and a still picture or two.  Something like video, graphics, slideshows, anything to pull the reader into the story and make them understand why it is important and why it is being reported.

Jeff Jarvis in “A Scenario for News” asserts that, “Specialization will take over much of journalism.  We’ll no longer all be doing the same things – commodifying news – but will stand out and contribute uniquely by covering a niche deeply.  Local newspapers, I believe, must specialize in being local and serving local communities.”  This is completely true.  If all of journalism is competing for the same things, only a select few will win the readership needed.

When television came around, it rivaled radio for a place in the world of media.  Radio today is much different than it was back then, but it has adapted to television, finding its own place and its own uniqueness that makes it a worthwhile media outlet. 

Today, the same is true for the Internet.  The Internet is revolutionizing the world of journalism with immediacy and print news just cannot keep up.  But that does not mean that print news will become extinct.  The trick is for newspapers to find their niche in the media world, for print journalists to learn how to be unique from Internet journalists, to make a hard copy paper worth printing and reading.  Newspapers are determined not to lose their place so they will adapt to become a unique news source that does not need to rival the Internet, but can be distinguished from it instead.

There are still people who like to be told what the news is and be done.  Not everyone likes the news to be a discussion.  They like the finality of print, the simplicity of it.  Many say that is just an older generation, but if they really look around it’s a younger generation too.  Maybe not as many in the younger generation, but they’re there.  There’s just something about a tangible paper, newsprint with pictures that is classic, something people may think they want to give up, but once it’s gone they’ll want it back.

The future of journalism lies in the hands of those willing to go the extra mile and step outside their comfort zone into the realm of new technology and a new era of media.  As Solis wrote, “Journalists and reporters benefit from reminding the world that they’re real people who are learning that genuinely connecting and participating online, outside of traditional walled gardens, allows the rest of the world to appreciate who they are and what they stand for.”

Journalism is evolving in ways that could have never been predicted.  Where will the future of journalism go?  No one can be entirely positive about that.  But what they can be positive about is that media and journalism is going to continue to evolve as it strives to bring audiences more immediate, updated, accurate, detailed news.

As Jarvis puts it, “The essential functions of journalism – reporting, watching, sharing, answering, explaining – and its verities – factualness, completeness, fairness, timeliness, relevance – are eternal, but the means of performing them are multiplying magnificently.”

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