Journalists’ place in a new world

April 20th, 2009

I’ve heard it before, and I’m sure you’ve heard it, too: Social media is replacing the need for traditional journalists. People are getting their news from eyewitnesses in real time. The old journalism model is outdated.

Sounds depressing, if you’re a professional journalist. Good news: It’s not necessarily true. Journalists, even in the social media world, do have a role, and it’s an important one. I wrote a piece for Media Bullseye about the need for verifying journalists, and I broke down a recent incident here in Austin that illustrated that point. I also spoke on a panel at the University of Texas’ International Symposium on Online Journalism on Friday and made the same argument to a room full of international journalists.

Here is an except from the Media Bullseye piece:

People still will turn to the mainstream media to explain what is really happening, whether we’re talking about breaking police news or government fraud. But it’s up to journalists to be in a position where they can be heard – and can listen. If we weren’t deeply involved on Twitter before this incident, we would have been completely irrelevant to these people in this case. Instead, we had an important role to play.

Read the entire column here.

The journalism symposium, which is in its 10th year, features top journalists from around the globe. The theme this year, understandably, seemed to be “How Do We Survive?”

My panel, which was lead by Robert Rivard, the editor of the San Antonio Express News, included:

Paul Brannan, Emerging Platforms Editor, BBC News, (United Kingdom)

Rachel Nixon, News Director, (Canada)

Robert Quigley, Internet Editor and Social Media Coordinator, and

Dwight Silverman, Interactive Journalism Editor, Houston Chronicle

I only talked about Twitter during my 15 minutes of fame on the panel. I was invited because of our paper’s Twitter efforts. Traditional journalists have finally completely taken to Twitter. Every panelist mentioned his or her efforts in some way. I ended my time by telling the story about the man on top of the bar that I highlighted in the Media Bullseye piece.

Here’s an official blog post from the event.

The highlight of our panel to me, though, was when the BBC’s Brannan gave an eloquent speech about how it’s an exciting, innovative time in journalism, despite the back economic news. I wish I wrote down how he said it, but there’s no doubt he struck a chord with that audience. I’ll try to get him to do an Old Media Q&A for this blog.

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Entry Filed under: Twitter

  • dan360man

    Great piece, Rob. Hopefully Paul will agree to the Q&A.

  • Brandon

    Good post. Here's a link to the PEJ/ONA survey released March this year. You need to be a member to access it.

    Online Journalists Optimistic About Revenue and Technology,
    Concerned About Changing Values

  • Robert Quigley

    Thanks, Brandon. I'll check it out. Thanks for reading the post!

  • Robert Quigley

    Thanks, Daniel… I hope he does, too.

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