Which comes first: The Chicken or the Egg? The Medium or the Message?

Filed in Blogging , Journalism , LinkedIn , Twitter 119 comments

Long ago, business was all about building a better mousetrap and force-feeding it into homes. Long ago, publishing was all about dollars and cents (don’t mistakenly read “sense”). Long ago, free speech was easily regulated — and not particularly “free.”

Today’s technology advances are creating a New Normal, and intelligent folks who want to work and prosper in these revolutionary times must accept and embrace the challenges and opportunities.

How does one do this? How does one keep up with — and even stay ahead of — change.

My online course Social Media for Journalists [beginning today, January 24] will offer a roadmap, i.e., GPS turn-by-turn instructions, to a variety of destinations from a selection of career paths to a better understanding of today’s world.

In preparation for the course, I posted a Discussion Topic on a number of LinkedIn groups where online journalists congregate. I asked them what topics, issues, and skills they would emphasize in a course teaching student journalists about social media. Below is a listing of their responses.

My students will be asked to choose one of the responses and write a comment below. I invite all my readers to do the same.

What online journalists say about social media and the future:

  1. The way to revitalize the journalism “industry” is to use the new technology to build community, connections, and most important — solid relationships.
  2. Publishing today is not just about offering something of value; you need to know what people really want and how they want to receive it.
  3. Integration is key: we are losing separate distinctions between journalism, PR, marketing, and advertising.
  4. Journalists are the storytellers and disseminators of news — they connect people to information, and social media is the newest means to accomplish this.
  5. Media outlets are using Foursquare and other local apps to find people at the sites where news is breaking.
  6. Cheap, high speed internet access and social networking has broken up the mass audience into social, economic, geographic, and business “niche” communities.
  7. Search engines, blogs, and social networking have made everyone a publisher.
  8. Twitter and Foursquare have become valuable tools for sourcing and feedback; the impact of instant public feedback in the writing/creative processes of the journalist.
  9. Students will help create knowledge and process.
  10. Journalism and the stuff that looks like it is less reliable and requires more consumer skepticism.
  11. When access to social media both as a contributor and reader is so easy, what value can a journalist bring to the mix?
  12. Posts on social media become news.
  13. Stories can be updated throughout the day on social media sites.
  14. Social media is not a one-way street; you must listen and engage, not just post.
  15. One problem with social media is that it has convinced people that they have superior observation and analytical skills as well as original ideas.
  16. Interacting with people on a one-to-one basis helps grow relationships, spread information, and gather new facts.
  17. Missing from online blogging is the filter between the writer and the public — the copy editor or news editor.
  18. Visual and audio media convey emotion in a way that print never could. In fact, when using multimedia, it may be extremely difficult to separate the emotional content from the informational content.
  19. Traditional news values and techniques are valuable and should be studied. There are some things the internet should never change.
  20. Ideally “old school” and “new school” news sources will challenge each other to do a better job. A competitive news environment benefits all.

Do any of these statements resonate with you? If so, please write a comment telling us which one and why.

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Posted by Shari Weiss   @   24 January 2011
Tags : , , , , , ,
Jan 29, 2011
9:10 pm
#1 Jena perry :

@Shari, LOL( can we even use that type of slang here? :P) after reading my comment again, i can see how the “how” got lost in translation. I guess a better choice of words would be moved rather than inspired. mainly because, it allowed me to look at how I contribute to the movement of the instant gratification of social media and social journalism and how I can become a better journalist and investigative reporter.

Author Jan 29, 2011
9:27 pm

Jena, initially you should do what you think is right; we will all learn as we go along.

Jan 30, 2011
3:56 pm
#3 Dolores Harshaw :

12) Posts on social media become news.
This can be true, but not always. One case of it being true: When Oscar Grant was shot, the story reported on broadcast news was of another unruly black youth unfortunately being killed by a respectable officer of the law. As it turns out, what was reported as the “news” wasn’t the whole story. Social media provided perspective and insight so impactive that the local news media and consequently the justice system gave credence to the reports.

Author Jan 30, 2011
4:17 pm

terrible tragedy, but you are right that it was all the “eye witnesses” who got the real truth out!

Jan 30, 2011
9:36 pm
#5 Suki van Arsdale :

I chose #4

I really agree with the quote, “Journalists are the storytellers…of news.” There are so many journalists out there, and everyone one has their favorite two or three or even a certain paper or news organization that they always refer to, so why is that? Because they like the way the news is conveyed and who says it. If you don’t like the way the story is being told, then you won’t listen, whether it’s real or not.

Author Jan 30, 2011
9:53 pm

The old business adage “The customer is always right” is even more true now when consumers have so many choices.

Jan 30, 2011
10:35 pm

# 20 – Ideally “old school” and “new school” news sources will challenge each other to do a better news environment benefits all.

I do agree with this statement. Many people use to say that new medias will take the place of old medias, which i disagree. I believe that old school and new school will challenge each other to do a better news and to be complementary.

I don’t think one exists instead of other. both are complementaries and for the professional of communication thats a good opportunity to explore and learn how to use a new media for work and how to connect it with old media too.

Author Jan 30, 2011
10:38 pm

Keeping an open mind and seeking collaboration will bring the greatest rewards.

Jan 31, 2011
12:33 am

#15 “One problem with social media is that it has convinced people that they have superior observation and analytical skills as well as original ideas.”

I think I may be one of those people you reference in the above quote. Currently, my confidence in writing is solely attributed to the number of people who have subscribed to my blog. All thirteen of them. I have enrolled in this class to enhance (or begin the process of developing) observation and analytical skills so as to become less reliant upon affirmation garnered by the “like” button.

Jan 31, 2011
12:40 am
#10 Maria Saenz :

I agree with number 19, traditional news should stay the way they are. Even though the internet media it’s our way of evolution and basically the signature of our new society I think that some things shouldn’t change the way they were made because it’s more valuable that way then any other. Am not saying that social media shouldn’t be used or that it’s bad it’s just that things have a purpose of why they were made that way.

Author Jan 31, 2011
1:14 am
#11 Shari Weiss :

Sorry, Maria, it is difficult for me to understand your point here. Can any other readers help me out?

Jan 31, 2011
1:12 am
#12 Cody young :

From working in the media industry for 3 years now, although new its Clear that the Differences are huge. Integration between the internet and TV have to work to get the message across, If one were to fail, the Other would get effected. Its To Big to Fail.

Author Jan 31, 2011
1:36 am
#13 Shari Weiss :

Cody, check your spelling.
That’s the reason for the “drafting” part of the report.

Jan 31, 2011
1:45 am
#14 Jena Perry :

I believe what Maria is stating is that Traditional news should stay the way it is and not change, even though the way we communicate and offer information has evolved parallel with the progression of technology. In addition, the way social journalism has changed merely reflects the evolution of society and does not always represent the decline in the value of information or which it is being presented. However, Tradition is traditional; and some things were put into place for a reason and should not be changed, devalued or ignored.

Author Jan 31, 2011
2:29 am
#15 Shari Weiss :

Jena, I’m not certain what you mean when you say “tradition is traditional.”

Jan 31, 2011
1:46 am
#16 Kevin Jennings :

My comment is for #3: “Integration is key: we are losing separate distinctions between journalism, PR, marketing, and advertising.” and #7 : “Search engines, blogs, and social networking have made everyone a publisher.”

The scary part about social media is that everyone has become a publisher. Which could mean that there may not be no factuality to the news or story that is being reported. Or in some cases the purpose of the content gets mistaken for something else. Whenever i read a story from a social media site, i have to determine whether its PR, journalism or just a hoax. But what i do like is that you can decide what you want to believe and be able to give your opinion about it, which may have an affect on another reader who reads your comment.

Author Jan 31, 2011
2:31 am
#17 Shari Weiss :

Kevin, actually the fact that we all need to be “critical thinkers” and skeptics — did not begin with Internet CGC, i.e. consumer-generated content. How about publications like National Enquirer, etc.
and people standing on soapboxes screaming their views . . .

Jan 31, 2011
2:11 pm
#18 Jena Perry :

The act of being tradtional is a tradition within itself.

Jan 31, 2011
4:06 pm
#19 Amanthis Miller :

Responding to #48

I thought I was! What did you originally mean by “sections”?

Author Jan 31, 2011
4:23 pm
#20 Shari Weiss :

Amanthis, sorry but I don’t have a context for your comment about #48 and “sections” — can you explain a bit more?

Jan 31, 2011
8:27 pm
#21 Emma Lingard :

from LinkedIn discussion from Online Reporters and Editors
I agree with a lot of the comments posted, so won’t repeat those points. One thing social media has done is allow journalists to monitor topics and people as a way if getting comment, opinion and interview through some of the many monitoring software available. This has certainly opened up access to sources.
Posted by Emma Lingard

Feb 3, 2011
1:23 am
#22 Amanthis Miller :

In Comment #16, you asked what my favorite sections were. In the original comment 13, I had mentioned sections of a newspaper so I assumed that was the kind of sections you were asking about. Sorry, I guess I made it more complicated then need be, aha.

Feb 3, 2011
5:12 pm
#23 Champa Mulchandani :

Comment # 12: Posts on social media become news.

I don’t know how much I agree with this comment. While I believe that Social Media is a way in which news is circulated, it also works like a “rumor mill” in many ways. A piece of serious information gets transferred from person to person, media site to media site and by the time it reaches person X, it is often distorted.

However, that said, personal observations in serious circumstances often do help spread news that is 1) often ignored and 2) unheard of. An example includes a sting operation in India that found a prominent journalist lobbying for particular politicians. While major online newspapers and publications choose to ignore this issue, it is only because of pressure from Tweeters via Twitter that these publications had to stand up and take notice.

It was a whole week later that publications actually acknowledged this matter and published reports on the incident. The journalist in question was attacked by followers and tweeters to the extent that she, in fact, became a trending topic.

So yes, while it can become news. A lot of the news can be misconstrued too.

I think it depends on what news is being told and by whom. It is important to question the source and why this news is being told by them on a social networking site.

Author Feb 3, 2011
11:18 pm
#24 Shari Weiss :

LOVE your real time example!!! Happy to hear from you.

Feb 10, 2011
12:20 am
#25 Kristin Herd :

#12 Post on social media become news

So many people today use social media sites to post his or her thoughts or feelings, current events and check to see what trends are happening with celebrities. Some sites like Perezhiliton.com, Facebook.com, Twitter,and Myspace.com have launch a frenzy of other sites like personal blogs, where other are able to express his or her personal thoughts on what’s happening with them or dating sites that allow people to connect with locals in his or her neighborhood or across the state and out of the country.

Dec 14, 2011
6:01 am
#26 Jolene Saunders :

The “interesting” remark of the speaker: Asking everyone to raise their hands if they were an “expert.” I’m the ONLY person in the room who didn’t raise my hand. In an atmosphere where the technology in which to preform a task is available to all (when that wasn’t always the case) it is easy to jump to the assumption that everyone can now do it.

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