Movies, memories and magic making

October 26, 2008 at 2:05 pm (new age journalism) ()

Human beings naturally have stories to tell and that is what makes news so interesting.  There is a two-way system to this; people who have a story to tell and the people who want to tell it. This is how traditional journalism has always worked. But now journalism is not such an exclusive field and people can tell their own stories. The kind of technology that can be used allows a person’s story to be heard, not just by those who are present by anyone who has access to the internet.

 

People can now make their own media and are actively being encouraged to do this. A good idea? Well, I suppose that depends on the subject. It has to be subject that they have at least some knowledge about, or else the content could be dangerous and misleading to anyone who reads it.

 

Obviously everyone is entitled to tell their stories. And personal stories are always a safe bet. The technology that allows people to take old photos and clippings and use them to create a media story is a modern way to put together a collection of memories in one place and give the story teller a voice. As far as I’m concerned, this is harmless and can be an interesting insight into people’s lives from all across the world.

 

I don’t think that this is a pointless exercise, but the problem is that a lot of it is limited in its interest to other people. But to be interested in someone’s personal story depends a lot on the story, the individual and whether you have some kind of connection to it. It may give someone a voice but is anyone listening? To me, it does not seem like much more than people making home movies with their old photos, which may interest others more than myself.

 

In the case of multimedia story telling I suppose you could argue that it doesn’t matter, it’s more for the people who are producing it to be given the chance to create something that they are proud of and just to have the opportunity to put it out there for people to see if they wish, whether they do so or not. If it gives someone satisfaction and pride in their work then who am I to criticise?

 

If we apply the concept to the media as a whole however, I can see how it comes into more use for wider application. To gather old photos and clipping from an event that has spanned over many years, it can be a very useful tool. It gives newsrooms the chance to play with pieces of history and put them together in ways that fit in with the modern world. Take for example photos from the two World Wars or old elections where the photograph and basic film were the only mediums available. The news rooms can now take these and create them into a modern film to explain how and why things happened and to relate them to contemporary events that may have relevance.

 

The tools can bring the history to life, and if you choose the right subject it can be both a valuable learning and very enjoyable tool to use.

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Something old,something new, something borrowed…

October 21, 2008 at 7:50 pm (new age journalism) ()

There is no doubt that technology has changed the world and is still doing so at an increasing rate. No profession has managed to escape it, least of all journalism. The way that journalism was done decades ago involved typewriters, all contact was done face to face, and although, for the time, the news was printed as quickly as possible it was beyond slow by today’s standards. Even just 15 years ago using Web 1.0 things seem so much slower despite being a giant leap from what it was. Technology helps the profession in many other ways than it does for other trades. One thing that it has in common for all professions is that it makes things quicker. And seeing that speed is a key element of news journalism the introduction of technology has aided us in so many ways it almost seems like a dream to think that we could not communicate with people without having to see them face to face. Talk about hard work. That is by no means to say journalism has become lazy. The work still has to be put in, just in through other methods.

 

The increasing use of technology hasn’t meant we have left the traditional practices of journalism behind. It merely makes these practices more efficient. For example, good journalism has always been about networking. Charlie Becket describes it as a means where we can connect with people outside of the newsroom for stories, opinions, photos and any other contributions to the news that we may need. Becket says networked journalism gives people a voice in the media.

 

Jeff Jarvis similarly suggests that networked journalism can now be more collaborative with both amateurs and professionals working together.

 

This has always been the case-the public have always been part of the news, seeing as the news is about people. Now they have more access and a voice that they can give as and when they feel like it rather than waiting to be asked.

 

Under Web 1.0 networking had developed but was still limited. A journalist could source a story a contact by telephone calls or meetings, a letter to the editorial or someone asking to speak to a reporter. There was the possibility of forums but they were still developing and were very restrictive.

 

Then came Web 2.0. where a journalist could source a story through social networking such as Twitter or Facebook, podcasts online searches, threaded video debate and from incidents that may be live streamed on the internet. These are all used in collaboration wit the tools that were used under Web 1.0.

 

 

I’m sure the idea of more access for the public to journalism scared a lot of traditionalist and there are critics who suggest that citizen journalism is threatening traditional journalism. I disagree. I think news can only be improved by the collaboration between the public and journalists. Of course, I agree that there should be a line; after all I don’t think that the profession should be totally undermined and I don’t think that anyone can just put something on the internet and be classed as a journalist. But I think that combining the skills of both can only make improvements for the audience.

 

 As Richard Sambrook stated; whatever the subject that we choose to report, “someone, somewhere will know more about it than we journalists do”. It takes a skilled journalist to find this knowledge and know how to use it to improve their story. Journalism is not dead by any means; it is merely being enhanced by these tools and perhaps we should embrace them rather than see them as the enemy.

 

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Citizen journalism…a favour or fraud?

October 13, 2008 at 4:43 pm (new age journalism) ()

I’d never really given citizen journalism much thought before. I think I had always put it down to something that ‘other people’ bothered with, and I had always wanted to be a ‘real’ journalist. But looking at the increasing trend and importance of members of the public in both the reporting of news and providing analysis and opinions on ranging issues, I realised that people who take part just want to the chance to share their thoughts, images and anything else with other people. And why shouldn’t they? In a society with free speech they have every right to do this. Also, who am I have such snobbery? I realised that journalists and citizen journalists have the same goal; they want to tell people what’s going on and reach out to as many people as possible with their information.

 

 By getting people to send in photos of events as it’s happening, the news gets to the public quicker than any reporter who would have to leave the news desk and travel to the scene. The use of people’s comments and their versions of events from the scene not only grants stories a personal angle but gives the public a different account of the event; a description of the hard-hitting reality of being there while it was going on, and a sense of proximity. A reporter could not do this from a news desk or by turning up after the incident had happened. All they could give their viewers/readers is an account of what happened afterwards, and perhaps a quote from somebody that they had managed to grab passing by. By using real accounts of someone’s experience more depth and reality can be given.

 

Does this make journalists lazy? The fact that they can sit at their desks and use someone else’s photos, someone else’s account of an event and someone else’s opinions? In some cases, perhaps. However, I know that after years of hard work, I don’t want to be someone who merely sits at a desk all day ripping off someone else’s work. That’s not what good journalism is about.

 

Good journalism is about using tools that are within reach, but using them to add to your own work, to make it better, to give it a sense of real life. You want the account of Joe Bloggs if it makes your story personal, but he has to be referenced and it has to be done fairly. It is far too easy to be patronising to citizen journalists because they don’t sit in a newsroom with journalistic training.

 

Of course there are drawbacks that need to be considered. People could be out to hoax, such as the picture of the deer in the woods (http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bl_montana_fire.htm). But that just means checks need to be made.  The use of citizen journalism should not be curbed because there are risks involved. The risks just need to be safeguarded.

 

If we take the example of 7/7, citizen journalism played a massive role in the reporting of the event. Pictures from inside the trains were being sent to the media within minutes of the terrorists striking. Photographs, which no journalist would have been able to get, were being put out on national news straight away. As soon as anyone made it out of the stations, they were asked to give a blow-by-blow account of what had happened, what they heard, saw and how they were feeling. In situations such as these, where no one knows what has happening and everything is in a state of confusion the main source of news is those who were there and were involved.  Examples of all these can be seen on the BBC news website at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/uk/2005/london_explosions/default.stm.

 

The media can’t have their cake and eat it. If they are going to use citizens for stories such as these, they need to let them have a platform for all events. Yes, we need to be wary, but in the long run, it looks to be the way forward for valuable and informative journalism.

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Social networking…making friends and beyond

October 13, 2008 at 4:04 pm (new age journalism) ()

It seemed incredibly daunting when it was first put to me that if I was to enter journalism in this modern world, I would need to have skills that included using social networking sites, social bookmaking and to create a blog. In fact, being the technophobe that I am, it was terrifying.

 

However, once I began to look around the internet at existing blogs and started to explore tools such as Twitter, I realised I had been blind to this part of the industry. I now have a sense of the power that some of these tools could have for journalists.

 Twitter has really enforced this point. At first, I, like some others, struggled to see the difference between the site and Facebook status updates. However, as we pressed further and looked at how Twitter could be used as more than just a status update, its uses became more apparent.  It seems so overwhelming to me the amount of power that the internet can have, especially when we heard about the story of the journalist who was arrested in Egypt. It was almost beyond comprehension that a text to an internet site could lead to a global petition and put pressure on governments.

 I feel as if I have been completely oblivious to a whole part of the internet that I was unaware of and have so blatantly missed. After setting up RSS feeds, I now notice that most websites that I previously logged onto have an RSS icon at the bottom. This is also the case with Twitter, as so many websites that I went on before suddenly mention or use it for opinion polls and connecting to their audience. It’s almost as if I have been walking around with my head in a technology-free cloud, and it can only be a good thing that these sites have been exposed to me.

 One of the main themes in social networking is how sites such as Twitter and practices such as blogging provide a two way system in the media where the audience can now be part of the process and have a space to voice their opinions. As we are meant to be living in a democracy the idea of free speech is key to this system and these tools help this process. It gives some sort of power to the consumer. It also provides a better service to readers as they have different points of access to journalism, interactivity and can reach the news immediately. It is a means of getting information and news out there as quickly as possible and in a world where technology is omnipresent, it manages to meet demands. See this webpage for more explanation on this point-http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7287536.stm

 

 

 Bill Thompson makes a point about social networking and the changes that I feel sums up the current technological climate: “The scale of the changes in the practice of journalism and the economic models of the companies that support and sustain journalism is starting to become apparent”.

 Social networking that has stemmed from Web 2.0 has been seized upon by both audiences and those who want to reach them. It is a two way system that both the powerful and the masses can use to their advantage. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/click_online/5391258.stm)

 

 On one hand, it can help to evolve citizen journalism and people can focus on their interests and passions and put forward their ideas and opinions to global communities at a click of a button.

 On the other hand, it is a way for the powerful in our society to help their audience follow their actions, their views and let them reach out in a more direct way. Looking through some of the people that have got Twitter, these practices are obvious. Both Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton used Twitter in their campaigns for the democratic election alongside other major politicians in the United States. (http://twitter.com/BarackObama)

  Obviously they will have campaign team helping them do this, but to their followers it is a more personal way of getting to know the people they will vote for. The US election has a whole has a page on Twitter with constant flowing updates from those involved in the election and members of the public. This example shows how sites such as these allow interaction and information to be direct and makes politics more accessible. (http://election.twitter.com/)

 http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/socialnetworking is a useful webpage that discusses all these issues of social networking mentioned above.

 Networks and communities are and will become increasingly vital if journalists wish to add depth to their story, engage with their readers and access information from different sources all around the world both easily and efficiently. It is by no means developed yet, but it can only grow and grow and increasing access to sources, information and different perspectives for journalists and consumers can only be a good thing.

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