Perhaps unsurprisingly, Twitter was once again the topic of choice in my online journalism lecture today. Of slightly more interest this week was the ‘star-studded’ discussion panel (my lecturer Chris Brauer‘s own words) who were chipping in their well-received thoughts on the topic and on new media in general.
Blogger and new media expert Jemima Kiss (@jemimakiss) and director of POLIS, Charlie Beckett (@charliebeckett) were speaking, along with BBC’s Pete Clifton, writer Anthony Thornton and internet entrepreneur Matteo Berlucchi. One point of interest, on a brief vacation from the topic of twitter, was that of the concept of the ‘robojournalist’ and in particular how the role of the journalist is changing.
Charlie Beckett made reference to what can be seen as ‘old media’ and a time when television channels and newspapers set themselves up as the foundations of society proclaiming, “we are the world!”.
Well, now that world has opened up, in a way we are only just beginning to realise. New media has transformed that out of date mode of thought and allows each and every one of us to engage with an entirely new range of audiences. It is time therefore for the next generation of reporters to step up to the plate.
In this world of new media one arrives, hopefully, multi-skilled and laden with gadgets. Armed and ready to capture every nugget and nano-second of news in order to throw it out to the world via the internet.
But Jemima Kiss, now affectionately labelled ‘mistress of multi-skilling’ by Charlie Beckett, issued a warning. It simply isn’t enough to carry the tools around but to learn to use them effectively. Obvious, no?
Perhaps not, it seems many people think that by simply using the newest gadgets or latest medium they are, by default, successful journalists. Unfortunately not. It is now about learning the appropriate way of utilising each medium to communicate successfully.
Peter Thornton warned against a generation of journalists who are so multi-skilled they would simply be “crap at everything”. Instead, he urged, it is about learning about and selecting the tools you are good at using.
On a more general note, as old practice and new media grate alongside each other, it is clear to me that you cannot push new concepts into an old model. Charlie Beckett agrees, saying that this has been happening for too long, as new media is still not being taken seriously as a stand-alone idea.
I would be lying if, yet again, I didn’t feel a little overwhelmed on the topic of (here it comes again) new media. It is a tough job to balance both the innovative and traditional elements of journalism, but I really think this should be looked at as a positive challenge.
The fact that the boundaries of communication have been blown wide open should be seen as an exciting opportunity for budding reporters to approach journalism and engage with the world on a completely new level.