At first glance, the media landscape in 2010 seems vastly different from years gone by. The internet has transformed the way journalists create and deliver news, while blogging and social networking have blurred the distinction between the “amateur” and the “professional” writer.
But, in reality, the fundamentals of journalism have not changed at all. The classic journalistic skills of storytelling, accuracy and knowledge are still of paramount importance, it is simply that the media outlets in which these skills are used have multiplied.
In his lecture on 21st century journalism, Adam Tinworth explained how the media landscape looks very much like the “beat days,” when journalists would nurse their patch. The areas in which we cultivate our knowledge and contacts have become modern-day “beats,” so in many ways the journalistic fundamentals remain unchanged.
Tinworth also explained how the way people interact with media has changed. While content was once delivered to an audience in a one-way fashion, now there is an increasing dialogue.
Thanks to the internet the audience can now talk back, and the line between the amateur and the professional is blurred. Our writing must therefore be honest and accurate, or else we risk having our mistakes highlighted by a fellow blogger, for all the world to see.
The audience has been empowered by their ability to create content as we do, thus we now have access to an abundance of information. It is for this reason, Tinworth said, that we must write with passion. If thousands of people are able to write about the same things as you, you must have something which sets your writing apart. This will determine the failure or success of paywall, said Tinworth.
“The question about the paywall will be whether [The Times] can create someting unique, something people cannot get anywhere else,” he said. Unique, quality content will be born out of a love of the subject, said Tinworth.
He also reminded students to value bloggs as a conversation, not simply a place to air opinions. As editorial development manager of Europe’s biggest B2B media company, Tinworth is an expert in combining the internet with journalism. He explained how dialogue and interaction lie at the heart of blogging, and urged us to strive to stimulate discussion.
Opinion, while being of interest and value, is superseded by links between the journalist and the reader. Photos, videos, lively discussion and context are the most important elements of a blog.
Equally, we might like to think of journalism as an ‘art’, but it is crucial to understand it as a business. We serve our audience, giving them what they both need and want to know. Being aware of what the audience wants is crucial, and blogging and social networking are two of the most useful ways of staying tuned in.
Tinworth’s lecture was both stimulating and enlightening. He urged us to re-connect with the audience, and reminded us we will be solving the question of how journalism operates in the future. Perhaps the most inspiring message to take from the lecture is this: “You as journalists are the eyes and ears of the world. Always have them open.”