Evolution of Journalism in the Digital Age

Story by Meish Roundy

“You don’t need a license to align yourself to a media source anymore,” Holly Richardson, Utah state legislator and blogger said Thursday, Oct. 27 at a broadcast for KUER’s “Radio West.” “We can convince people to leave things out (of the news) no longer.”

Mathew Ingram, writer for GigaOm.com, talked about a time when there was no public feedback unless someone wrote a letter to the editor.

“Twitter and Face book feedback have become a part of the job now,” Ingram said.

“Things are changing,” Mathew LaPlante, former journalist and high school teacher, said at the event. “The audience is become journalists and journalists are becoming the audience. The internet has turned the world into a small town.”

Despite these changes in journalism, a panel of experts including Holly Mullen, former reporter for The Deseret News, denied the collapse of the profession but rather a transformation.

The panel discussed that the Internet, specifically Twitter and Facebook, has made everyone a type of journalist. Richardson recalled how Osama Bin Laden’s capture was tweeted a half-hour before the media’s breaking news.

“But there is still a need for traditional journalism,” LaPlante said, “People are thirsting for a referee!”

Ingram agreed that with the amount of information available online Americans have become trained skeptics and will still search for articles from trusted journalist.

The panel also talked about how the news has improved. “News stories have evolved,” Ingram said, “Before they had a beginning middle and end. Now . . . a story shifts and feeds itself based on opinion or what someone else posts or saw.” LaPlante continuing with this idea said, “The media is all of us now.”

KUER’s Doug Fabrizio asked, “Does it matter if someone is good at writing (to be a journalist)? Answering Ingram said, “Education is good. But you don’t have to be trained to commit random acts of journalism.” Richardson agreed, “In order to twitter you don’t need and education.” Mullen on the other hand told Twitter users “You are all journalists” in that “the point of the media is to be human,” but warned that, “We cant outsource our brains to a cloud.” She said her university training was a necessity in that it helped her, “learn hot to write quickly and use active words.” LaPlante agreed stressing that with the amount of current opportunities people have now to blog, tweet and Facebook that, “there is not a lot of journalism training in our education and there should be more.”

The panel touched on the issues of online libel and payment.

Kourtney Mather, a public relations major at the University of Utah who was at the broadcast, said the meeting was, “Interesting. I have never taken Twitter seriously as a social tool of journalism.” Jim Kroe, also a University of Utah student, said he was. “Happy to know journalism is evolving and that the news will be more about the people and what they want to hear.”