New technologies, new platforms – new journalists?

Chris: Television, radio, internet, mobile phones and numerous social networking sites are just a few of the multi platform delivery areas news networks are utilising to bring us the stories.  Alongside this, new technologies are used to obtain the information to update the viewers when they wish to be updated, although problems can arise.

A recent example was the Mumbai bombings and how the social networking site Twitter offered new leads and story options for journalists. The tweets of people who were in Mumbai were used alongside correspondent’s reports and blogs to feature on the live update pages of the BBC website. This shows how citizen journalism is being used more readily to obtain real live accounts and footage of stories as they are revealed.

In relation to the live update pages, BBC New Website Editor Steve Herrmann reported on his blog; “these accounts move more quickly and a wider array of perspectives and sources, not all verified by us, but all are attributed”. He comments on how the live update pages are used as informative snippets of information and then the most relevant and important pieces are used in the news across radio, television and the web.  So even though there are more media options to obtain different opinions, is this proof that with an increase demand for multi-platform delivery it has caused an increase in sloppy journalism?

Steve explained the problem using the internet. “There are risks with running accounts we haven’t been able to check”. In relation to the rumour the Indian Government had requested Twitter updates to be stopped, the BBC chose not to report or investigate this, in hindsight he regrets this, but says “We’re still finding out how to best process and relay such information in a fast-moving account like this”. This shows the modern problems caused by multi-platform delivery. The increased need to rely on other sources and the need of judgement in whether they should be trusted is an issue which the internet and twenty-four hour televised news channels face.  The increased need for news on demand, in particular though television and the internet, forces networks to use new tools to obtain and utilise their content. Twitter, Flickr, using other media and public sources are examples of how journalists have to diversify and use tools.

One controversial use of twitter involved the US newspaper, The Rocky Mountain News who used the tool to update its website news alerts. The reporter attended a funeral of a three year old child, the messages that appeared were seen as distasteful and inappropriate. They included – “Pallbearers carry out coffin followed by mourners” and “family members shovel earth into grave”. Is this an example of how multi-platform delivery has gone too far? Do we need to have updates from a personal event like a funeral?

Traditionally this option would not be available to conventional journalists and in the latter case it has shown how new technology and the forced need to use multi-platform delivery (in the case of The Rocky Mountain News, both newspaper and web) can affect traditional practices, ethical and moral issues.

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One Response to New technologies, new platforms – new journalists?

  1. Mary says:

    Hey all, got this link sent to me on my social media email alert, but I think it’d be more use to you.

    http://onlinejournalismblog.com/2009/01/27/when-journalists-blog-how-it-changes-what-they-do/

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