EMBRACING NEW JOURNALISM
If you think you’re great at getting the word about your business out there to the world, think again!
The rise of social media networks, particularly Twitter, has led to a new term being coined within the world of news – citizen journalism. This basically entails members of the general public taking the news into their own hands; like being first on the scene at a major event, or reporting on an incident for a local newspaper.
Everyone these days is armed with a camera/video phone that is able to capture images with a click – and all they have to do is to upload and feed the news and photos online and in real time – and we have the daily news at our fingertips!
So what does this mean for the traditional media and the PR industry?
Changing media landscape
Journalists and PR professionals have always worked together. As much as there’s been conflict between the two, with journalists purposely ignoring the never-ending stream of press releases (which some have come to regard as spamming!) and PR professionals having to deal with arrogant and unappreciative journalists. At the end of the day, both groups know that they not only need each other but also have to rely on each other in order to survive in this real news, real time world.
The media landscape as we know it, is changing and this is impacting the roles of the two parties. Newspapers are going through a rough time. Newsrooms are getting cut, reporters have to do more with less, and readers and advertisers are going digital.
Today’s real-time journalism means there is room for everybody and anybody to share his take on breaking news stories simply by blogging, tweeting or commenting on live chats. You have to be dead on the money though because delay equals failure. For PR pros, this means turning the PR relationship around and providing information that journalists look for and at the precise moment.
In terms of real-time journalism, citizen journalists have the opportunity and ability to produce and share content. This has given birth to a new breed of influencers (young and old) who are quickly gaining a strong following and presence that appears to be growing by the day. You may be surprised at how much influence these “new” journalists” are able to exert than the traditional journalist. And as we PR people know, it’s just not enough to just please the traditional journalists, we have to learn how to harness the power of social media to inform, influence and engage the public – in order to get our message across.
Embracing the New
Traditional news outlets have been looking at business models that would allow citizens to report the news. Earlier this year, CNN reported that it has one million registered iReporters in its citizen journalism community. Bringing citizens into their news reporting process has not only allowed the network to have the most up-to-date and exclusive content, it has also enabled them to get the content either free or for very little, and without having to send reporters out to the field. Time, cost and resources saved!
Over the next decade, we can expect to see failing TV ratings as online views start to even out. Going by the pulse, we can say with great confidence that the younger, more educated and media savvy generation is going to demand everything online at lightning speed – from news to education, to their favourite shopping, TV, movie and sports channels. They are after all a mobile lot who rely extensively on their iPads and iPhones for the latest updates on the go. People are going to want to pick and choose what they watch and what device they watch it on. And it’s not going to be on the couch.
As the world and technology evolve, so too must die-hard journalists and PR professionals who must evolve with it by accepting citizen journalism as a valid source of information.
Political dynasties have risen and fallen with the breakneck reporting of a single citizen journalist – someone who happened to be in the right place at the right time, with a video camera and tapping fingers. He can play a big part in helping to craft an accurate, reliable story behind a breaking event; however only experienced journalists know how to tell it in the right way and to ensure all the facts are 100% true and relevant.
It’s really a question of collaboration and knowing when and how to use citizen journalism in the right way. If the facts presented are inaccurate, it’s not the citizen journalist who gets the rap but the news outlet than ran the story. This could break the trust of the audience and ultimately may even lead to the demise of the publisher or network.
Collaboration is key
Yes you can cast a wider net by embracing citizen journalism and all it offers – easy access to news events in the quickest way possible. Fortunately, as with traditional news organizations, the Internet is home to hundreds of recognized independent news organizations and blogs. Everyone is looking to break a good story. If you can provide a story to one of these sites, the site will help to spread the story around the Net. If you can provide a story to a journalist and help them do their job you will have a better a chance of getting your story published online. And chances are you’ll have a better shot that an editor or producer at a traditional outlet will see your story.
No matter how much journalism changes and we see these changes every day, from newspapers closing down their operations to them moving their businesses completely online, journalism and PR will always work together; whatever form each party takes.
No doubt in the next few years, we will continue to witness the rise of citizen journalists or new journalists. Whether it’s the average citizen Joe, the PR pro or traditional journalist, the media will become any form of collaborative content that people want to share in web communities.