The Internet has changed journalism and media

27 Mar

The increased presence of the Internet in our society has ushered in a new era of journalism and news media. News gathering has become an ongoing process. Where in the past a reporter got his or her assignment, talked to sources, printed the story and was done with the story, now the process is more complicated. Each step of the new gathering process has been enhanced by social media and other ways to interact with audience on the Internet.

One news organization in Canada, OpenFile, is embracing these new ways of interacting with its readers. OpenFile is experiemeting with what they call a “transparent newsroom.” This means that OpenFile includes the community in their news gathering more than media ever have before. In this case, OpenFile asks for story ideas from the community. Once a story is found, a reporter is assigned to it and a file is made online for the community to access and add to. This allows the readers to decide what news is important to them. OpenFile is overlooking the fact that this allows other papers to scoop its stories. OpenFile sees the trade off as worth it. Even though reporters risk getting scooped, they can gauge the importance of every story. To me, they are getting back to the heart of journalism: bringing good and accurate news to the readers.

This is a good example of how social media is changing media. It’s also making news gathering ongoing. Story streams are going to come even more important in the future of journalism. Story streams allow journalists to link their  current stories back to related stories  that have already been reported on. Storify is an example of how social media is helping journalists to utilize story streams. Unfortunately, today’s newspapers aren’t going to be able to handle updating news stories like this. Newspapers won’t be able to accommodate real time updates and links that the readers are starting to demand. The field of journalism is in for a big change in the near future and a lot of news organizations are embracing social media.

The important parts of articles now are leaning more toward participation, the ability to go mobile and to deliver news in real time. You can see how Sports Illustrated and The Atlantic have embraced the changes and prepared to go digital. The Atlantic reorganized its site to encourage more discussion among readers and reporters. They call it a “platform for voices” and it fits right into the digital future of journalism. They also encourage aggregation and the use of topic pages, both of which are tools we’ve established will be essential in the future.

Sports Illustrated is preparing for the switch to the digital era. Most magazines have a separate department for the online section. Sports Illustrated doesn’t adopt this style of organization. The editors think the main separation between print and online should be the length of the articles. They are trying to make sure print and news are as intertwined as possible. Even the design department is making big changes. Sports Illustrated has made big leaps into the future of journalism, but it still has more to do. They hope to be able to study usage data to gauge their readers’ interest and usage more accurately.

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