BitDepth 724 - March 30

Journalism in 2010 is not only influenced by the Internet, it can be lubricated using this medium.
Journalism 2010

News 2.0. Image by Andrey Prokhorov,

In one of those curious timewarps that columnists inhabit, I’m writing this column last week about a talk I will be giving yesterday. That is to say that the column’s deadline is six days in advance of publication and my talk, to SBCS students of journalism, was on Monday.

It seems that those students are curious about how to make their way in a media landscape that is both fragmented into dozens of outlets and fracturing between online and traditional channels of consumption.
So, at the start of the second decade of journalism in the 21st century, here are some thoughts on what journalists should be thinking about.

Be entrepreneurial. The days of working as an employee for creators of journalistic content are running out. An employee takes direction, provides what is required and collects a paycheck. In the world of media of today, the entrepreneurial journalist is the one who not only sees the story, but evaluates its permutations, the extensibility of the content and the capture points for reporting. 

In 2010, the print-based journalism entrepreneur captures extended audio in an interview, camera phone footage and stills in situations where there is no other support, and builds this extended media into a definitive online resource. There is no “that’s not my job” in media as it’s evolving.

Content is king. But content will be increasingly aggregated, distributed and referenced in myriad ways. If you are an employee of a media house, the content you generate is owned by that company, to be used as they see fit, but even in those circumstances the entrepreneurial employee will capture content for online use in intriguing ways and push for its presence.

If you aren’t an employee, then you should be thinking of how your content might be collected to leverage your own presence in your chosen field of engagement. This column, for instance, was available online as a curatorial experiment in the first five years of its creation and returned five years ago as part of a measured business decision.

Get better and more professional at what you do. Your competition will be fierce online. You won’t be competing with local media houses anymore, you’ll be fighting for the attention of a global audience that enjoys the many distractions that search engines supply them. Quality and consistent presence will drive that goal, slowly but steadily.

Master new media. Get a Twitter account and figure out who you should be networking with and monitoring. Get a Facebook account and network with everybody. Get in the habit of scanning these streams quickly and dipping in to add comments while scouting for story ideas. 
Social media is a bit like fishing. You have to restock every so often to keep the schools of thought strong and healthy. Use software like Tweetdeck to filter multiple streams for maximum effect when you’re in a hurry.

Get a blog and contribute to it regularly. There’s nothing like the directness of that interaction to teach you about your online audience and where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

Learn the web. Not just point and click and how to enter a phrase in a search engine. Learn just how powerful search engines are. Explore blogs of personal and professional interest and thread through their blogrolls. You aren’t searching online; you’re data-mining the largest freeform database in the world. Intuition and skill go hand in hand in turning up information.

Related vidcast,
The Creative Entrepreneur
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