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Sourcing the news

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One of the biggest – and least reported – changes in news over the last decade has been in sourcing.
On the one hand news content – particularly visual content – is becoming more & more likely to come from members of the public as from professional journalists (see today’s Times pictures of the jeep on fire at Glasgow airport). Content sourced this way will almost certainly grow the more the confident / aware the public become and the more news organisations actively search for it (check out the ‘We’ll pay you at least £100…’ Channel 5 news website).
On the other hand official sources – big business and government – have become much more organised in how they communicate. This is not to say they are engaged in some sort of Chomsky-esque conspiracy to manipulate the free press, but they are more organised. It also doesn’t mean they necessarily seek to dissemble or disguise. But it does mean they’re better prepared to promote themselves through the media, and more able to counter criticism (see Paul Moreira’s new book - review via Editor’s weblog).
Both these changes require new skills from journalists. Sourcing news media from the public means finding it, getting hold of it, authenticating it, establishing its context, and working out how to use it. Dealing with professional PR execs/depts means not only being as knowledgeable as they are, but being acutely aware of their agenda and what might be missing from their perspective.
At the same time new filters and channels are springing up which link mainstream media with sources – from NowPublic to Facebook to Scoopt. And today I learnt (from Roy Greenslade) that Wikipedia is becoming not just an information source but a news source too.
But we’re still a long way from understanding what the implications of these changes are and what impact they’re having on the news we end up consuming.

Written by Martin Moore

July 2nd, 2007 at 11:42 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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