Online Journalism – Talkin’ Bout a Revolution?

The Online Journalism Revolution (pic from Flickr user 'berbercarpet')

The Online Journalism Revolution (pic from Flickr user 'berbercarpet')

Last week, though delivered in a distinctly unWeb 2.0 way, Peter Preston gave one of the most positive lectures on the future prospects of journalism that we have heard at JOMEC this year. Perched on a desk at the front of the lecture theatre, and without recourse to any electronic devices for the presentation, he told us to “travel hopefully” into a future which he believes is not as bleak as others have suggested. Using the example of the US election, he said that big events will always require different forms of media coverage – something he expands on in this blog post – and as a result he predicted that the newspaper would be safe.

The day before this, we heard from Adam Tinworth. While he did show that online revenue for the company he works for, RBI, had overtaken revenue from print halfway through 2007 and hadn’t looked back, he too was optimistic in a general sense about the future of journalism. He said: “If you are enthusiastic about journalism, this is the best time in 100 years to go into it. On the other hand if you hate change and want to go back to black and white media offices, you will get a rough ride”.

This final caveat from Tinworth – that it is necessary to embrace change to succeed – is what I want to pick up on. This week, we also heard from Antony Mayfield, head of content and media at iCrossing, who claimed that the current online media revolution, like the invention of the printing press in 1450, is changing the “means of production of content” as well as the “means of distribution”. Two examples from the last couple of weeks have shown that those revolutionaries who are enthusiastic about the opportunities that new online publishing platforms and social media offer are more likely to be the winners.

Franklin D. Roosevelt and Barack Obama

Franklin D. Roosevelt and Barack Obama

First of all, it has been well-documented how Barack Obama used the internet to mount his winning presidential campaign (see here for a prediction and here for substantiation). This weekend, he demonstrated that he plans for this successful strategy to continue. In a twenty-first century digitised reinterpretation of Roosevelt‘s fireside chats, Obama posted this video on Youtube, billed as “your weekly address from the president-elect.” With just shy of half a million views in two days, he is evidently on to something.

In a second example much closer to home, a delegation of budding journalists from my course went to cover the Society of Editors conference in Bristol last weekend. I think they deserve a bit of this. Not only did they speedily put together informative reports on each event at the conference, but through use of Twitter and Hash Tags, they provided real time coverage of the speeches on this feed. After they had blazed this technological trail, other media outlets cottoned on and starting using the stream as well.

As Antony Mayfield said, we are only at the beginning of the online journalistic revolution. The tools are out there for us to use, and for those who choose not to, heads (or more likely jobs) will roll.

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~ by seanbradbury on November 16, 2008.

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