Thursday, February 23, 2012

Carnival within a Carnival: A crowdsourced reply to this month's prompt

When the call came for the February blog carnival, the first thing that jumped to mind was that the prompt questions of “What emerging technology or digital trend do you think will have a significant impact on journalism in the year or two ahead?" and "How do you see it playing out in terms of application by journalists, and impact?” were topics we had touched upon during the first few weeks of the semester in my multimedia writing class.

While this is not explicitly a journalism class, it does have -- as I tell the students -- "journalistic DNA" in that is is about collecting, processing, understanding, and presenting information in a coherent narrative or story. The general focus of the class is on multimedia storytelling, especially using various elements of a nonlinear online presentation (text, audio, video, still photos, multimedia combinations, curation) to tell complete and coherent stories. That's a skill that applies to modern journalism, public relations, and a wide variety of other media communication practices.

So, what I decided to do for this month's Carnival was to crowdsource my response, by holding a little blog carnival of my own within the class.

An ongoing class assignment is to write blog posts each week about social media/digital media/digital journalism topics. Generally the students are responsible for selecting topics of their own posts, usually looking at sources such as Mashable, GigaOm and the like for inspiration and ideas to blog about. Often, multiple students have selected the same topic; for instance, during the week of the SOPA/PIPA online protests several students chose to write about that.

But having blog replies to a specific question was something we had not done before, and the students generated some thoughtful and interesting responses in the assignment.

Two trends that were repeatedly identified as affecting journalism were greater use of Twitter by journalists, greater distribution of news content via mobile devices, and of course the combination of those two trends. While use of Twitter and mobile are already well established in journalism, students' comments mostly addressed where they think these trends will go and what the implications will be:

"People will simply rely on their Twitter feeds for accurate, up to date information from reputable sources. I am not saying that the need for full, in-depth articles is being replaced, but the method that we are being routed to these articles is going to change." -- Brett Vergara


"The impact (mobile devices) will have on journalism as a whole is a continuation of the movement away from the traditional means such as magazines and newspapers. Journalists will have to adapt their presentation style to fit digital mediums and to be able to be easily read on tablets and smart phones." -- Matt Sosenko


"I believe that Twitter and smartphones are where journalism is headed. It just makes things much simpler and easier as our lives become more fast-paced and we have more of a need for quick news right at our fingertips!" -- Krista Pilla


But going mobile has a down side, as another student pointed out:

"The problem is, the screen is so small that it doesn't fit an article in the window like it would if it was a computer. Because of this journalists have to change the way they write articles. They need to be shorter, and more to the point. This does not mean to get rid of all the details. In fact, only the most important information should be in an article or blog. Without the filler it makes it much easier for smart phone users to read articles on their phone." -- Kyle Marzola


The potential for aggregation through services such as Storify and Pinterest was mentioned by some students as well

"I think that journalists can definitely use this application (Pinterest) . They can make posts of their own using this site. It will be different from the work they are used to but every job and career requires advances in technology. I think it’s a great system to use and I hope that this site stays high in the social media market." -- Sarah Grabar

Finally, taking an even deeper step back from the tools to their implications, one student noted that the evolution of how news is presented has raised the bar for news literacy on the part of the audience.

More people, especially young ones, he said:

"get most of their news online and from social media sites. While this may seem harmless, it is putting in place a massive assumption: that readers will be able to recognize the difference between a company’s PR team, a group of advertisers or a news story. Those uneducated in the field of communication might take the information linked to by a company with just as much trust as a news organization trying to expose that same company’s lies or misdeeds. In the long run, it means a heavier burden on journalists. Not only do they need to grab the attention of potential readers, they also need to remind the readers of who they are and what their position in the media world is." -- Nick Donovan


These students are, of course, the next generation of news consumers and -- some of them -- news producers. That makes their views especially relevant to this topic of the future of news and technology's implications on that future.

3 comments:

Sue Robinson said...

Sounds like a smart bunch of students, Jack!! Can you send me your syllabus for this class? I teach a similar one and am always looking for ideas to revamp!
sue robinson

Jack Rosenberry said...

Happy to, Sue. Do you want some of the assignment rubrics, too?

Carrie Brown said...

Great idea to have them crowdsource - I'd thought about something similar but didn't pull it off. Very smart comments, I'm impressed.