More on the future of journalism

I haven’t done short takes in a while, so here are some interesting finds from around the blogosphere:

The value of small talk: Steve Yelvington has the best explanation I’ve read so far for the value of social media. He compares the gabbing over Twitter, for example, that so many find banal to the glad-handed chit-chat of business meetings. He says, “Small talk is a mechanism for opening channels of communication. It’s a tool for establishing social/conversational norms and overcoming our inbred distrust of anyone outside the tribe.” Exactly. And that, my friends, is one of the big values of connecting through social media. I find it interesting that the same people who know how to “work a room” in the “real world” feel they have no time to do so in the virtual one.

What’ s killing newspapers? Patrick Thornton at The Journalism Iconoclast makes a compelling argument that complacency is. He argues that instead of being leaders with that newfangled Internet, newspapers ended up as followers, trying frantically to catch up.

“When you look at industries that ultimately fail, it’s because their leaders never thought a new technology or a new way of producing a product could come along,” he writes. What I like the most about his message it he offers hope:  “We can change the course of the future if we cast aside defeatism and complacency.” It’s worth a read.

The role of newspapers: Laura Walker offers a list of nine reasons teachers should use Twitter that are important because all nine apply not just to teachers, but to everyone. What I found most compelling about her post is how she, a nonjournalist, uses Twitter as a news gatherer.

She notes that “sitting down with a newspaper is not a luxury” she has time to enjoy everyday. So she follows smart people on Twitter who tweet her links to the latest in her areas of interest. Now we in the newspaper field can balk as we have for decades … “Well, gosh darn, she should read a newspaper.”

But that won’t matter. Here is a smart, educated woman who finds she can discover her own information sources. News organizations can be among those sources, or not. What we can’t do is change how she — and millions like her — want their information.

What should j-schools teach? Ben LaMothe at Web Publishist has an interesting post about what journalism schools should be teaching these days. He’s responding to an Editor & Publisher article by Seth Porges, who argues J-schools are “top-loading course loads with classes on coding and production” and possibly scaring less-technically inclined students away. LaMothe notes, well, I think, that it’s a shame so many journalists know so little computer technology, coding, production.

Both articles are worth a read. My two cents: I think J-schools need to teach it all –  how to tell story, how to get the mother of a murder victim to open up, how to spot government waste in documents, how to write quickly and well as well as basic html coding, how to produce and embed video, how to  figure out how to use a new Web application, etc.

I know too many journalists who don’t know how to upload a photo and have no desire to learn. As LaMothe notes, “The Web won’t just… stop. We should assume that the integration of journalism and the Web is in its infancy. Massive change is still on the horizon. As a journalist you need to be able to react to that.”

How to use Twitter: Finally, if you’re not on Twitter yet, get on it. Read my tips on how to get started and the best tools for journalists part one and two. And read a great overview of Twitter by  Ron Jones, of Search Engine Watch, and his valuable follow-up lesson. No excuses. You can’t say we didn’t explain it.

Overheard on Twitter: The best of recent days in the Twitterverse:

  • @ambersmith “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I am frightened of the old ones.” –John Cage, composer, 1912-1992
  • @NiemanLab Minneapolis Star Tribune staffers debut “Save the Strib,” advocating their paper’s value and seeking buyers
  • @timwindsor “You may love the morning ritual of the paper and coffee… but do you seriously think that this deserves a subsidy?”

5 thoughts on “More on the future of journalism

  1. Thanks very much for the comments about my blog post. It’s really interesting to see what you say about reading newspapers! I would love to buy and read them more often but I have become a product of my era I think, and the formats I prefer are immediate, brief and social. Both my local and national press sources of choice are part of my Twitterscape and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wonder now how I kept up before!

  2. Laura,

    I, too, wonder how I kept up without Twitter.

    I think your experience is really relevant for journalists. Newspapers and the news media in general should be listening more to experiences like yours.

    Thanks for visiting.

    – Gina

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