Visible not critical: What next journalism?

I read a few interesting posts over the last few days. The first was I’m Glad We Didn’t Have Facebook or Twitter on 9/11.

That’s the real problem with attempting to make sense of 9/11 using social media: The former requires deep thought while the latter feeds on immediacy. Ten years and millions of articles after 9/11, we’re still trying to come to terms with what happened that day. We’re still sifting through the debris and our collective emotions in order to find whatever it is we lost, or to explain why things are the way they are now. I have a hard time believing 9/11 tweets or Facebook updates would have changed any of that for the better. And by now they’d be forgotten anyway, buried under 10 years of more shouting into the abyss.

The second was (a trail for) a piece in the press gazette by the Guardians Paul Lewis on the way the riots have proved the need for paid journalists

“Some people argued the digital era would see paid journalists replaced by an army of citizen reporters,” he said.

“The riots proved otherwise: people might consume news differently, but they still want it told straight, and by reporters on the ground.”

I found myself agreeing with both posts but was a little uncomfortable about that.

The 9/11 post made so much sense given the recent experience of the coverage of the riots on twitter. Not that I am, for one moment, equating the events. No, its more the position that the rumour and hearsay where dangerous, pervasive and perhaps even a distraction from more important stuff.

Perhaps Lewis’ point about the need for journalists in that is even more valid but that in itself makes me feel uncomfortable.

What next, Journalism?

I suppose I can sum up my discomfort in terms of a question. “Ok journalism,. What are you going to do next?”

If you are that important and social media needs your influence and control what are you going to do to keep your place at the table? Do we have to wait for another riot or MP’s expenses or wikipedia to prove that you are doing journalism? All great work but not a huge hit rate given the number of you out there.

Visible not critical

Of course the truth is that there are loads of journo’s doing loads of great things at every level. Really good journalism. But we don’t hear about them. At least we don’t hear about them because we are often too busy telling people why all the other stuff is not as good.

So maybe I feel uncomfortable because, whilst twitter would have had a roll to play the rumour and lack of facts would have been a nightmare. But maybe it would have been a necessary evil. Maybe it would have had to be there to fill a gap.

 

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