Standing in the middle of the road with a camera set up taking shots down a busy Katoomba street, I found myself wondering, how can I make this story more digital? This is a question that more and more journalists, editors and producers are asking themselves on every single story (Jones & Salter, 2012; Stassen, 2010). There have always been strong links between journalism and technology (Pavlik, 2000) and there is no better time than the present to highlight some of these links. Though when studying the links between technology and journalism one must understand the impacts that new technology has on the modern practices of journalism.
In order to make the story more digital I sent out a tweet about the story, followed up by another tweet showing the camera at the scene (Thomson, 2015). Twitter has become a primary method of breaking news because it is instantaneous and direct (Stassen, 2010). By using my social media following I was able to tell a story about the news piece I was producing. Other methods I could have used would have been Instagram, WordPress blogs and Facebook. My broadcaster of choice was Twitter because it was the most direct way of reaching as many people as possible.
Being a news producer in Katoomba today. pic.twitter.com/EgotIRbj4H
— Keegan Thomson (@Keeganthomo) May 8, 2015
Due to the increasing pressures of the 24-hour news cycle, journalists are vying for the power to break stories (Oddo, 2014). By using portable digital recording devices and editing applications the ability to break news whilst in the field is now a new norm. Social media and blogging platforms are offering new mediums for publishing news even when away from a newsroom. This is challenging the traditional methods of broadcast and print journalism (Hodgson & Wong, 2011). In some cases journalists have organised portable wifi signals so that they can publish from isolated warzones (Aedy, 2014). With a simple wifi signal and a smart phone, a journalist can break stories from the heart of the story. However with this new technology comes the rise of citizen journalism.
Citizen journalism is an alternative form of journalism in which a civilian uploads news content to social media, helping in the dissemination of news content (Greer & McLaughlin, 2010). Some suggest that citizen journalism has a negative effect on traditional journalism (Hill 2014), whilst some argue that it offers up a new way of gathering and accessing news from across the world (Preston, 2014). One thing for sure is that citizen journalists would not be doing what they are doing without the advances in technology. During the Egyptian revolution of 2011 and the subsequent Arab Spring, citizen journalism shed a light on the atrocities that was being inflicted on protestors. When it was too dangerous for Western journalists to report, local citizen journalists uploaded and broadcast content via social media from makeshift wifi networks (el-Nawawy & Khamis, 2013). A journalist must also think of the ramifications of a citizen journalist. By taking journalism to the streets and opening it up to a number of different citizens, a new element of competition is added into the business of journalism.
Social media and technology has opened up new ways in which consumers can interact in real time with broadcasted content. The Australian Broadcasting Company has used social media to its advantage with its flagship live broadcast program Q and A (Q and A, n.d.). Viewers can interact with the program through a Twitter hashtag and through viewer submitted questions. This user-generated content is a practice, which all branches and mediums of journalism participate in. User-generated content can enhance a broadcast or a story (Kiss, 2009) yet it can hinder a story also. Sometimes user-generated content can blur the lines between what is unfair and sometimes biased reporting (Lukyanenko, Parsons & Wiersma, 2012; Kiss, 2007) breaking a number of journalistic codes of ethics. If user-generated content were to be used in a story or broadcast, all aspects of any ethical or operational codes must be weighed up. This newly evolving form of user-generated technology has impacted the way journalists broadcast stories on air and online, because now the audience has a greater say in the story.
When out on the beat chasing my story, I found myself thinking competitively. I wanted to get this story out first, I wanted to cut and package it up as fast as possible. In this desire to be first I reflected on the competitive nature of Internet broadcasting and I questioned new ways in which I could use the digital technologies to my advantage. Further broadcasting methods I could have used was social networks like Snapchat and Instagram. By using their live streaming and video functions I could have created more interest in my story through social media. Though I specifically chose not to. If I took time out of my story to take more video on my smartphone, I potentially could have missed something or worse made my interview subject nervous (Masterson, 2014). Due to the increasing pressures on journalists, we are all being forced to become multiplatform journalists and producers. Every journalist needs to be competent in blogging, broadcasting, sound and video editing, and story research (Ahrens, 2006). Technology is impacting the way in which journalists work in the field and in a professional environment, because it is forcing them to think of the different platforms of broadcast and it is forcing them to publish on all of these outlets.
Technology is having, and will always have, an impact on journalism and its practices. From the birth of the printing press to the invention of the television, journalists have always found a home on whatever new media is out there. The mass subscription to social media networks like Twitter and blogs like tumblr has shown that journalists have embraced new technology over the last 10 years. Though the real test for journalists will emerge in the ways in which they adopt or adapt to the future changes in technology.
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