Media140: What do journos do better, exactly?

[This is my presentation for the Media140 Sydney panel “Do Journos Do it Better? Journalists in SocMedia Communities”. This is being posted here automatically, at 5pm, just as the panel is scheduled to start. Given that sessions earlier in the day may cover similar ground, I may well re-word things as I go.]

Media140 logo: click for more info

“Do journos do it better?” Do journos do what better? I think this is actually the more interesting question: What is it that journalists actually do in our society?

Or, to stick with the question, what do they do in “social media communities” — although as I’ll explain, all communities are “social media communities”?

Now if I were presenting an Oscar I’d start by quoting the dictionary. “The Macquarie Dictionary defines ‘journalist’ as ‘someone engaged in journalism’.”

Very helpful.

However “journalism” in turn is glossed as “the occupation of writing for, editing, and producing newspapers and other periodicals, and television and radio shows”.

So the question as stated is meaningless. Of course journalists are better at “It” — journalism — because they’re the ones doing it. If you’re not a journalist you’re not doing journalism, therefore you’re not merely bad at it, you’re not even doing it at all!

This is why I think the whole bloggers versus journalists debate was and still is so incredibly stupid. Both sets of people are doing much the same thing — creating words and pictures, probably about current events, maybe for money, maybe for the love of it or for professional status. Maybe they’re doing it well, maybe they’re doing it badly.

But during the Industrial Age, journalism with a capital “J” ended up meaning, specifically, the employees of industrial mass-media factories — especially newspapers. Employees whose jobs were to create the specific widgets of news needed by a production line — a five-paragraph story, a 30-second radio news item or whatever.

Or, with respect to my friends at the MEAA, “journalist” meant membership of a certain trade union.

Now, coming back to that word “social” in “social media”…

Continue reading “Media140: What do journos do better, exactly?”