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?”

Links for 29 April 2009

Here are the web links I’ve found for 29 April 2009, posted with postalness.

  • Australia 2020: Government Response: A year after the event which seemed so important at the time, we finally have the government’s response.
  • Developments in internet filtering technologies and other measures for promoting online safety | ACMA: The second of ACMA’s three annual reports on “developments in internet filtering technologies and other safety initiatives to protect consumers, including minors, who access content on the internet”.
  • The Full Story: “The Full Story is a media and information release portal where individuals and organisations can post breaking news, publicity, information or their side of the story on issues of local or national importance — free, as it happens, unedited and in full.”
  • Internet-Age Writing Syllabus and Course Overview | McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: “Course Description: As print takes its place alongside smoke signals, cuneiform, and hollering, there has emerged a new literary age, one in which writers no longer need to feel encumbered by the paper cuts, reading, and excessive use of words traditionally associated with the writing trade. Writing for Nonreaders in the Postprint Era focuses on the creation of short-form prose that is not intended to be reproduced on pulp fibers.”
  • NBN Luddites will be proven wrong | BuddeBlog: Analyst Paul Budde with another thoughtful piece.
  • RedR Australia: This organisation provides training for people working in overseas aid and disaster relief, covering everything from logistics to personal protection. Yes, there is a reason this is being bookmarked, but it’s secret.
  • Swine flu: Twitter’s power to misinform | Net Effect: Once more, the usual human trait of passing on information which may or may not be true is blamed on Twitter, not on the humans. Fail.