The way we consume news is changing, and it is the duty of journalists to be transparent, to collaborate with their readers, and respect that people are the experts. These are the key points Dr Claire Wardle made in her lecture this week.
Media used to be consumed in a fairly passive, “top-down” manner, but it is now becoming an interactive, two-way dialogue between those who read the news and those who write it.
In her gripping lecture, Dr Wardle explained how Social Media facilitates this dialogue, by allowing “the people formerly known as the audience” to comment on, share and even create content. As Peter Barron, Google’s Director of Communications, said at the Tomorrow’s Journalists Conference, social networking and collaborative news sites such as Newsvine mean “everyone can be a news-gatherer, everyone can be a publisher.” However, Dr Wardle warned that while many journalists are using Social Media, they are not fully engaging with their readers – greater collaboration is vital.
We must also recognise that the audience often has greater knowledge of a subject than we, the journalists, do. By asking people what they know, and encouraging a continuous dialogue with them, journalists can bring more depth to their stories.
Transparency is also vital – by making content out of processes, and showing the audience how you have built your story, your work will be more credible.
Perhaps the most important message to take away from Dr Wardle’s lecture is that people are the news, so journalists must take every step to listen to them.