The Neverending Conversation

10 Oct

We’ve reverted to type. News has come full circle and now we’re back to gossiping, spewing forth information we haven’t verified. Pretty quickly, it gets verified. It’s just that now, unlike back in the 18th century, this conversation happens online. And, as the title of this blog suggests, it is never ending.

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It is simply no longer viable for news organisations to employ old, out of touch reporters who were at their prime in the 70s, and are unwilling to alter their practises to suit the new era of online journalism. The benefits put forward by Spencer Howson, Brisbane’s top radio presenter, were pretty fundamental. The internet platform takes journalists from their mass media pedestal and dumps them right down in the thick of it: the dreaded comments sections.

This is how audiences like it, and you’re only going to be able to monetise a service (as journalism must now do) if the audience likes what is being presented.

“Digital is not about putting up your story on the web. It’s about a fundamental redrawing of journalists’ relationship with our audience, how we think about our readers, our perception of our role in society, our status. We are no longer the all-seeing all-knowing journalists, delivering words from on high for readers to take in, passively.” – Katharine Viner, Editor in Chief of the Guardian Australia.

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The benefits of this “open journalism” are neatly set out in this article by Matthew Ingram.

–       Readers often know more than you: who know what kind of expert might be willing to give you their insight. It’s much more likely they will on a simple online discussion, than in a real interview, which as we all know, are odious.

–       Openness brings accountability: as I stated before, regarding the dreaded comments sections.

–       Being open can produce scoops: there are countless examples of stories being stumbled upon during Twitter crowdsourcing exercises.

Whether we like it or not, as journalists we technically work 24/7. Miss out on a key conversation, and you might miss out on your scoop, or a key factoid, and hence your credibility.

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