Don’t blink!

17 May

How has journalism and mass communication changed over the past decade?  

Technically Speaking:

I’ve been in the business just long enough to know.  When I first began my career in West Virginia 14 years ago, I was a one-man-band.  I shot, wrote, and edited all my stories.  The cameras were extremely heavy and the editing was all done tape-to-tape.  When I  moved on to a much larger market, working for WGAL, I got to work with a photographer every day.  What a relief!   The cameras were weighing less these days…and there was a shift to betacam XS.   The process took some getting used to.  The interviews flew by so quickly!  Once you got the hang of it, it was a much better way of editing.  

 Now, nearly 10 years later, I am working as a News Anchor at Fox43.   Our editing is done on-line on Final Cut Pro.   Interestingly enough, we are heading backwards a bit when it comes to that one-man-band.  Because of the economy, we hire many multi-media journalists who are a one-man-band.  The titles have changed as well.  That multi-media journalist, was once known as a reporter.  The new title, to better explain what it is we do these days.   Back in the day:)– we wrote our stories, edited them, and aired them during our newscast.  If you missed the newscast that evening, you missed our coverage of the daily news.   There really wasn’t a push to get things to the web like there is today.  Nor was there facebook or twitter.  

The way in which we administer news today has changed so much.  When news breaks we better have it on our website within a minute.  It only has to be a line or two.  As we learn more details, we update the story and add more and more information.  A reporter who is on the scene of a fire better snap a couple of pictures and get them to the website immediately.  They must also tweet the picture and the basic information.   Then, after posting to the web, to facebook and to twitter, the reporter can begin working on getting the story together.  It’s exhausting!  

The really cool thing about posting stories to the web is the ability to share the full interview or the full document.  Years ago, there really wasn’t a way to share everything.  Today, viewers can be just as informed as the reporters if they just take the time to read and watch the extra material on the website.     

Creatively Speaking:

I spoke primarily about the technical side of the evolution of mass communications thus far.  Now, I will provide my personal insight into the creative side of journalism.   With society attaching itself to every form of social networking, news organizations have to be willing to adapt.   There is a fine line journalists shouldn’t cross when it comes to editorializing.  I believe we still have to tell both sides of the story, not interject our opinions, and be accurate.   I think there is an opportunity for people who want to share their opinions to be heard in the form of blogs.  I don’t think journalists should jump on board the blog wagon–at least not a blog containing controversial subject matter.   And with so many so-proclaimed journalists posting stories to their blogs every day, we have to be increasingly aware and cautious of the source from which we gather news.  There have been plenty of times that journalists at a news station see a tweet from a source that turns out to be inaccurate.  We must be so very careful to fact check.   Recently, a local news station ran a story that Joe Paterno died.  That is true–but not on the day they reported that news.   They were a day early!  

 The world is rapidly changing and the technology that is being used today will be obsolete a few years down the road.  Journalists need to remember the role they have in society, despite the social media craze.  It’s my belief that we can deliver news creatively, in an entertaining way, while still adhering to the values of journalism.


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