A thick veil of gloom is slowly blanketing journalism. From resembling Clark Kent and Tintin in their youth, journalists now look more like Jason Blairs, untrustworthy information distorters. Layoffs, shorter deadlines and declining ad revenues are adding to the pessimism of the trade. To feel better, some of them even fake readership data.
We stand against this trend. We are sure that journalism is getting better and stronger by the day. And that journalists will benefit from this.
More than just a big vent session for happy or angry journalists, we want to list the reasons why journalism is going in the right direction. Why it’s easier than ever for young journalists to access sources. Why journalists have more power than ever against their editors. Why journalists will have a more positive impact on society.
This is why the Online Journalism Blog team created JollyJournalist.com, a place where you can tell the world why you think that these are good times to be a journalist. We’ve added ten reasons to get you started below. Once you’re done reading them, please head over to JollyJournalist.com to comment on them or add your own!
Oh, and the more people participate, the jollier it gets – so please help us spread the word by blogging about JollyJournalist.com or also by putting our nifty badge on your site!
1. The power of organisation without an organisation. Social networks allow you to find people with the same interests, with different abilities and a commitment to the same goals – regardless of location or status. The news team is no longer within the same four walls, they can change with each story.
2. Write what you want and build a personal brand. Your editor doesn’t like what you have to say? Start a blog and post it there – if it’s interesting and well written, the world will notice.
3. Be the paperboy. That’s actually better than it sounds: As a journalist, you can now also take care of the distribution of your content – and decide whether you want it to be an article, a blog post, a video, a podcast or whatever.
4. The death of churnalism. News is consumed in such a way that commoditized wire content can be delivered at zero marginal cost. There’s no need for rewriting. Journalists can focus on fact digging and analysis.
5. Information like it’s Christmas. Google allows for journalists to get information without having to go the library. Most importantly, scholarly data and free-to-use databases offer the critically-minded with thousands of references to build an argument and add value to an issue.
6. Whistleblowers at arm’s length. Wikileaks and the like have made it really easy for people with sensitive information to bypass censorship and reach a journalist. That means more insider information in the newsroom.
7. Real-time fact-checking. Interviewing a politician who’s bluffing you with tons of statistics? Ask her to quote the source and confront her to Google on your 3G cell-phone.
8. Ask people who actually know something. Browsing blogs or academic work gives you access to hundreds of contacts in just a few clicks. The address book isn’t nearly as valuable as it used to be, therefore opening up the profession. (OK, political journalists not included).
9. Interview the world for free. Skype means free interviews for freelancers. What’s more, asynchronous e-mail interviews mean you can get answers from New-Zealand while sitting comfortably at your desk in Europe.
10. Feedback that’s not from mom. Reading comments, blog-searching or twitter-watching let you see what others are saying about your article or your area of expertise. You know when you do well. And when you need to improve.