The Rise of The Audience

By: Callie Mendenhall

 “Journalists are increasingly becoming the audience and the audience is increasingly becoming the journalist,” said Matthew LaPlante on Thursday, October 26. KUER’s own Radio West was recorded in the Hinkley Institute of Politics and the topic of the show was how journalism is shifting and how it’s affecting the audience. Doug Fabrizio hosted the show alond side the panel of four others: Matthew Ingram, a senior writer at; Holly Mullen, a writer and former reporter; Matthew LaPlante, a journalism instructor at Utah Sate; and Holly Richardson, a member of the Utah House of Representatives and an active blogger.

The way citizens receive information is changing. Journalism used to be an article about every event, but now even Jeff Jarvis, an American journalist, is saying, “Today an article is no longer needed for every event.” What that means is now piece of information or journalism might be a tweet or a Facebook status instead of a well-written and edited news article. News is now on a 24-hour cycle and it can no longer be an industry where news and stories are only updates every morning when the paper comes out. If a person wants information about anything they are able to get on the Internet and find it out. Ingram said, “We are turning the Internet into a small town where everyone knows everything.”

Because everyone knows everything, journalists have had to change the way that they interact with their audience by making news a process and not a product.

“The relationship between journalist and the audience was fundamentally disconnected”, said Ingram with the concurrence of Mullen and Richardson. Before the wave of social media, a story was written and then unless a journalist got a letter from a citizen it was done. Now when a journalist writes a story, they get an immense amount of feedback within minutes from their readers. This change has made the journalists more accountable for their information put out. Kate VanWagoner, a senior communication major at the University of Utah said she believes that, “Journalism has reached a new level of efficiency.”

Social media is still a work in progress and therefore is still having many hiccups and discussions along the way. With Facebook and Twitter anyone can be a journalist, but discussed in the show is, is it necessary to be a card-carrying journalist anymore?  Richarson who had no college training to be a journalist said she feels a person doesn’t have to have the training of a college degree because a person can simply teach themselves. Mullen, on the other side, said she believes that having a degree and learning techniques in college in order to write is extremely important and society will never lose the appreciation for it. Traditional journalists or card-carrying journalists will always have a place in journalism, but now so do citizen journalists.

Citizen journalists report information to citizens every day because the traditional journalist can even submit a story on the same event and that is how journalism is changing.  Citizen journalists are everywhere and continue to grow everyday.

When the panel of guests were asked how to be a citizen journalist the answer was to be interesting, relevant, factual and above all seek the truth and report it.

Emily Dunn, a junior communication major at the University of Utah said, I would consider myself a citizen journalist, but I’m still taking the appropriate steps in order to get an education to learn everything that I possibly can.”

Journalism is an ever-changing industry and LaPlante put it best that we are democratizing the system of journalism by having the audience become the journalist and the journalists become the audience.

Meet the Latest and Greatest in Journalism… The Audience

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; 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.