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Local News via Youtube

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Are overworked, ‘multi-tasking’ journalists on local papers the past or the future? The question occurred to me as I read Professor Bob Franklin and Dr Andrew Williams’ paper about Trinity Mirror’s online strategy (and much else besides, courtesy of Media Guardian). If you care about good journalism and believe in the value of the Fourth Estate it makes for depressing reading.
The overwhelming finding is that fewer journalists are having to produce more stories in less time. To do this they are repackaging more agency copy and PR releases. 92% of the respondents to Franklin & Williams’ survey said they use more PR material than they used to. 80% said they use more agency copy. Journalism, in the words of the authors, ‘has become an office job’. ‘Most journalists acknowledge’ they continue ‘that they are no longer engaged in the critical or investigative journalism which earned the local press the title of “local watchdog”‘.
No wonder, considering that in addition to writing more articles many journalists are being asked to edit content, provide links, and produce video. The result is either poor visual content or ‘journalists relying heavily on pre-packaged sources of video, such as police, PR firms, and even clip sites like YouTube’. And given the video material on the Daily Mirror’s new website, it is clear that this problem is not just restricted to local papers.
Surely heaping more and more roles onto a single journalist is not a workable model for the future? The 21st century journalist cannot be some sort of technological superhuman – researching articles, writing them, editing them, blogging, videoing, podcasting… At some point there has to be an acknowledgement that there is not one type of journalist but many – probably called different things (repackager? filterer? sourcer?). And by acknowledging this maybe we can also make space for the ‘original content reporter’ whose job it is… to collect original content.

Written by Martin Moore

March 13th, 2007 at 5:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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