Story By: Kade Sybrowsky
Audience is key in journalism. Without and audience there wouldn’t be any journalism. The advent of new social media such as Twitter and Facebook has change the perception on what exactly journalism is and whether or not the people writing on social media are in fact journalists.
“The audience is increasingly becoming the journalists,” said Matthew Laplante, a journalism instructor at Utah State University.
Laplante and others joined Doug Fabrizio for a Radio West discussion at the University of Utah recently. Joining Laplante was Mathew Ingram, senior writer for Gigaom.com; Holly Richardson, an avid blogger and member of the Utah House of Representatives; and Holly Mullen, a former columnist and editor.
“The media is all of us now… we have a 24 hour news cycle,” Richardson Said. She also said “I am a new age journalist.
What is this “new age journalist” and why is this even a discussion? The answer is social media. Social media has made it possible for people to break news, give opinions and write comments in a way that journalism hasn’t seen before.
Online comments are now and outlet for both positive and negative feedback. It is a way for the audience to directly give their unfiltered thoughts to the writer whether he or she wants it or not.
“Getting more feedback changes the way I think about what I do…it becomes part of your job,” said Ingram.
News can have some negative affects, such as the invasion of privacy.
“We are exploring what privacy means,” commented Ingram.
Richardson claimed that privacy is a choice and that “I have made the choice to put myself out there.”
Not everyone has to make the choice but libel laws will be affected. “The affect is so much grander… you can’t sue the whole…libel laws are in the process of evolving,” said Laplante.
Laplante suggested that with the social media world growing, and thus the journalist population growing, that there needs to be education put into place.
“We don’t write five paragraph essays (we) write in journalistic style,” he said.
Education may not be as important to Richardson as it is to Laplante. Richardson was a registered nurse and midwife. She began writing her blog because she was interested in politics. She didn’t major in journalism and had no other writing training other than research papers in college-a true example of someone not needing journalism training.
So why is education so important to Laplante?
“There is not a whole lot of journalism training in the basic education system,” he said. “That needs to shift so that everyone has a basic idea (of) journalistic standards.” He believes that with this education the margin for error on issues like privacy and libel will be less prevalent.
Even with more education, social media isn’t going anywhere. What makes social media journalism and the people who utilize journalists is still undefined.
“It’s not fully developed yet it’s in its infancy, we’re stumbling around and trying to figure out how to make this work…I think it’s good,” said Matthew Laplante.