We Have Seen the Future of Journalism and It Is ....
The session, put together by PRSA Boston Program Committee member Todd Van Hoosear of Topaz Partners, was moderated by veteran journalist Paul Gillin, author of "The New Influencers" and the upcoming book "Secrets of Social Media Marketing."
The panelists were:
-- Ted McEnroe, director of digital media, NECN
-- David Wallace, adjunct journalism professor at Emerson College who has written for the New York Times and online sites such as TechDaily
-- Robin Lubbock, director of new media, WBUR
-- Howard Sholkin, director of communications & marketing programs, IDG Communications
The sell-out session offered more questions than answers, as do so many thought-provoking takes on the future of a changing industry. But what good questions they were.
-- Do we need the so-called “traditional” media such as newspapers, radio, television, now that so many people have the ability to publish content and attract readers?
-- With so many people accessing blogs and other web sites handled by so-called “citizen journalists," who are not trained members of the mainstream media, are we going through one of the greatest standard-lowering exercises of all time?
-- Can we trust the accuracy of such blogs?
-- In a bid to reduce overhead and become more profitable through buyouts of reporters with the longest tenure, are newspapers shooting themselves in the foot? After all, the buyouts are offered to the most experienced reporters – those who often have the best sources and the most comprehensive knowledge of their areas of expertise.
One interesting take-away from the session:
The power of the Web allows news organizations to give us far more information than any other outlet all by itself (radio, television, newspaper or magazine) could give us. For example, MSNBC earlier this year examined inspection records for bridge repair throughout the United States and has made all those records available on its web site (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/) so that anyone who wishes to learn how safe the bridges she travels on every day can just click on the site and track her trip.
Does it work? After the session, I tracked the route from my home in Natick to my hometown, Needham, just a few miles away. I found that all the bridges I would need to cross are “functionally obsolete,” yet all met safety standards – as of early 2006, the latest data available on the MSNBC site. Good information. And I’m not dismayed that the data is only available through early 2006. As a veteran newsman who left that field for public relations and marketing, I know that most state and federal inspection data available to news organizations is at least one or two years old.