Evolution of Journalism

Linotype machine

The linotype revolutionized journalism in the late 1800s just as the internet is changing journalism today.

Journalism has evolved through the ages. New technology has revolutionized news gathering and journalistic techniques.

In the 1890s, it was the telephone and the linotype machine that made newspaper sales increase by 123 percent in just 20 years. Today, the newest journalism tool that has been developing in the last few decades is the internet. Without it, a reporter will get no where in this world.

Though the basic goal of journalism (providing readers with informative and entertaining content) remains the same, how it is achieved has taken some recent turns.

Modern journalism:

  • Is more collaborative than it was in the past.
  • Involves more audience participation.
  • Requires immediacy.
  • Makes news gathering and finding sources easier.
  • Breaks down the walls between the audience and the reporter.

Real-time Web

The internet has made society an impatient group of people. They don’t want to read about a plane crash the next day in the paper; they want to know about it as it is happening. With internet journalism, reporters need to get their stories out to the public as soon as they can. The “real-time web” allows people to know about events as they are happening.

Having a constant deadline may seem like added stress to a busy reporter, but new technology makes the process less overwhelming.

Tools

Reporters have a wide array of tools at their disposal when doing live coverage.iPhone

Perhaps the most important tool is a smart phone. With this simple device, reporters can shoot video, take pictures, write text, and upload it online all without leaving the scene. The picture may not be as clear or professional as one from a traditional camera, but in breaking news situations when a photographer is not available, the content of the picture becomes more important than the technical aspects.

Another tool available to reporters is Twitter and other microblogging sites. Reporters don’t have to file a full story right as an event is happening. Instead, they can send tweets, or updates to their followers. These 140-character messages have enough room to give out the most important information as it happens. Reporters can use Twitter as a note-taking device. After an even happens they can refer to their tweets when writing a full-coverage story.

Newsgathering is much easier with the internet. Whereas reporters used to have to search for information themselves, the internet has the power to deliver it straight to the reporter. Twitter is used to post updates and information, but it is a two-way street. The modern journalist utilizes the Twitter feed to keep up with what is being discussed by other Twitter users, what topics are trending, as well as to discover breaking news events. Some news stories, such as the 2009 plane crash into the Hudson River, broke first on Twitter because people at the scene tweeted about it before the media could arrive.

Besides following Twitter, reporters can receive information using an RSS feed. This allows anyone to create a personalized reader that will deliver information from favorite websites or information about specific news topics. Browsing a reader is much easier than scouring the internet by visiting each page individually.

Collaboration                                                                 

In the early days of competing newspapers, reporters wouldn’t dare refer readers to another news source. Today reporters are much more open to working with each other and with their audience to produce a story. Bloggers now link to other bloggers and journalists to provide readers with multiple views and more information. Link journalists completely refer readers to what used to be competitors.

In addition to working with other journalists, reporters often seek the help of their audience. Readers are encouraged to form relationships with reporters by commenting on their blogs or following them on Twitter. Reporters are encouraged to foster such relationships by responding to comments, following readers on Twitter, or participating in online discussions. The connection between readers and journalists has benefits for both parties. Readers feel more involved with the news process, and reporters often receive tips for potential story ideas or advice on how to better connect with their audience.

The power of the crowd

Modern reporters have tapped into the power of the masses using several techniques:

  • Crowdsourcing
  • Open source reporting
  • Pro-am journalism

With the internet, journalists have the ability to reach millions of people instantly. With crowdsourcing they can gather information from said people. They can post questions or ask citizens to help with a task, such as scanning documents. Using crowdsourcing, reporters can find new topics or details they may have missed. They can also find new sources to interview for stories.

In open source reporting, reporters share the whole journalistic process with their audience. Before, most readers would only see the finished product. Now, more and more reporters are making notes and rough drafts available to the public. This allows them to get feedback on how to improve the story from the very people they want to captivate.

Pro-am journalism completely gives the power to the people. Many major media websites provide a platform for ordinary citizens to upload stories and media. This allows full coverage from many different viewpoints. Citizen journalists may also cover stories that most media outlets would not have picked up such as hyperlocal stories. Eye-witness accounts often add flavor to a news story already being covered by the mainstream media. Citizen journalism was utilized in covering the recent string of tornadoes that killed over 30 people across the Midwest and Southeast. In between interviews and listing data, many cable news outlets also showed home video survivors shot of the storms while they were happening.

The new journalism

The internet has given traditional journalism a make-over. Old techniques are being integrated into new technology. Reporting is more timely than it has ever been. Events are being reported as they are happening. The journalistic process is also more open and the audience is no longer passive. The phrase “Journalism is dead” couldn’t be further from the truth. As technology evolves, journalism will continue to evolve with it.

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