Last week I spoke at the BBC College of Journalism’s Future of Journalism conference about the future newsroom, and the News Diamond specifically. Chair Louise Minchin asked the following question: did these new production processes mean journalists would become more passive?
It is a great question. On the surface that’s what would appear to be happening: in posting alerts and blog drafts you are inviting the input of the audience and therefore being more reactive.
But that’s only half the story. Journalists who grapple with social media have to be more active in many other ways: digging up stories and leads remains important but thinking you have the definitive version is increasingly problematic.
Posting Twitter alerts and blog drafts rather than just a finished ‘package’ means a little more work, a little less passivity. The payback is feedback.
Ultimately the production team has become increasingly porous, involving experts, witnesses, accidental contributors, and anyone else who can add something valuable (what I’ve previously called Distributed Journalism).
As journalists we used to be active in seeking those people out – and we used reliable, often official, channels to do that, meaning we were often too reliant on particular sources. Now sources are increasingly coming to us and the work is in making ourselves visible, accessible and trustworthy; and in filtering and verifying the information they provide.
That’s not ‘more passive’ journalism, it’s getting out of your silos and making contact; it’s moving from being a conduit to a stimulator. It’s moving from a linear production process to a networked one, and too few journalists are doing it.