News: what’s next?

As we head into the end of the academic term and the end of 2012, I don’t have a definitive answer to the question that’s been one of our most consistent themes for the past three plus months: What is the future of news?

Surely, it will include social interaction, as this video by Erik Qualman suggests.

Our old friend Dan Gillmor raises some interesting points about the future of Facebook as a utility, as ubiquitous as electricity.

How will professional journalists make a living in this context? Will any of the organizations that have supported professional journalism continue to survive? Some say paywalls are the answer.

Others share advice to journalists on how to turn their stories into conversations.

This article in the Christian Science Monitor raises interesting questions about what is being lost in terms of civic engagement as newspapers shrink.

In this context, it’s worth reviewing what good, traditional journalism looks like. Here’s a link to the 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning stories. The investigative winner was a series on pain killers, btw. Note that the Huffington Post — a non-traditional news source — won a Pulitzer for national reporting with its stories about mental health and Iraq war veterans.

It’s also worth noting that the news scene in Ann Arbor is being closely watched nationally.

The Knight News Challenge is funding many ideas for innovative news products that may become the future of news.

Here’s some more information about the people who will be judging our Knight News Challenge ideas at an in-person pitchfest on Wednesday. They are News Challenge director John Bracken, Detroit Media Partnership VP for Research and Development Steve Dorsey, and annarbor.com community news director Paula Gardner.

The pitchfest will be held from 9:30 a.m. to noon in North Quad’s Space 2435 on the University of Michigan’s central campus. It is open to the public, with pizza for all!

As you consider your place in this evolving picture, you might want to take a look at these short video interviews with professional journalists on what makes them successful.

Networking is a key to success in any career. So don’t forget to stay in touch and let us know what you’re doing!

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About emiliaaskari

Journalist, teacher, news game designer. Promoting digital literacy and content creation in the public interest.

17 Responses to “News: what’s next?”

  1. I always wonder as well ‘What is the future of news?’ It’s so hard to predict with such an unstable economic climate, but at the same time, it is kind of obvious. It seems that everything is becoming more social and less physical.

    Environmental print journalism (NatGeo, etc.) is unique in that it must inform its audience not only by reporting on the goings on of the environment, but also by telling its own story and visually interpreting the shifts in politics and the economy that have allowed environmental journalism to exist as a cultural litmus.

    Therefore, if social media or blogs are to render environmental publications obsolete- will the new guard be able to serve this dual purpose? Or will the looming shift in journalistic media also spell a drastic change in the way we view the environment itself? The answer, it would seem is almost certainly yes.

    Whilst environmental editors cannot match the speed with which the bloggers and social media can report, the bloggers can only copy and paste when it comes to creating the visual and literal iconography that has for so long defined the world of environmental print publication. This will remain so as long as they don’t have the funds to employ the photographers, stylists, producers and models that make up environmental print publication. At this point in time, only the hierarchical environmental publications have the advertising revenue to employ such visionaries – roles that no single blogger could ever hope to replicate.

    Many environmental blogs (such as those on tumblr) exist as a free library for such imagery, sourcing from thousands of environmental publications from around the globe. For all their scathing commentary on the archaic publishing world, such blogs are essentially a secondary means of ingesting in a more accessible way, the information provided primarily by the publications.

    However, if print were to dry up in the face of their online competition, surely this would pose detriment to the blogs themselves. And in light of this, whom would fill the void left by the visionaries put out by the shift in medium?

    To stay on the cusp of environmental news, a bookmark tab stocked with the most up-to-the-minute blogs is a must. But to truly appreciate and understand the environment and its imagery, little can compare to the feeling of pouring over a new, shiny copy of an environmental publication. Thus we can only hope that the old and new of environmental journalism continue to coexist, enriching our experience of the cultural phenomenon.

  2. It’s hard to say what the future will bring to the news industry. New innovations are constantly occurring, making delivering news more and more exciting. I wonder if any news sources will be able to stay afloat economically. I’m not one to want to pay for any news when so much of it is available for free. What do you think news companies will have to do to remain financially stable as the ways that news is delivered changes?

    I think as technology changes, news will too. Many people get their news from social media. Personally, I have CNN set as my homepage so whenever I go online I can see breaking news stories that are happening now. I also hear about a lot of news stories just from what people tell me. I’m curious how social media sites will change as news changes. Where do you get most of your news? How do you think where you get your news will change as news delivery changes? What would you like to see in the future of news?

  3. It’s interesting to go back and look at my “I believe” statements from the start of the year, because I talked about the future of the news and what I thought it meant. I thought technology was the future of news, essentially, and I still think that to some degree. But more specifically, social communication is more along the lines of how I see news being furthered down the road.

    If you look at places where the everyday student, for example, is getting their news, some would name CNN, FOX, NPR, or other news outlets, but I believe far more would say they get their news from social media or more social conglomerations, like Reddit. Online communities of like-minded people are the future of news, for better or for worse, I think. How can news still be unbiased in these forums? I think that is going to be the most challenging part of the news future.

  4. Jenna, I think your question “, What would you like to see in the future of news?” is an excellent way to brainstorm ideas for the innovations in news.

    When I simply think about the future of news, I can only see as far as developments in the domains we have. For example, adding a link to twitter to Skype or video chat with someone and communicate with them about their tweet. Let’s say a writer for CNN posts a link to an article about cancer testing, and you have questions or want to comment on it in conversation with the author. You could hit the “video chat” button, and start a conversation with the author. This would facilitate discussion about newsworthy, important information. But are conversations about news a form of news itself?
    Some would say ‘no’, it is too informal and everyday to be news, that the idea of video chat tweeting to facilitate news conversation could be considered the same thing as just talking with a friend about the news. Well, it is like chatting with a friend, but that is a way to spread and learn the news!
    At least I think it is. Years ago, before the Internet was so huge, I would have said the same thing, because I feel like talking about the news is a good way to be informed and learn about relevant issues and stories. However, today, I think the answer is a booming ‘yes’. As the Internet and technology have broadened our access to the news, the definition of news has had to broaden to match its many expressions–blogging, video chatting, tweeting, etc. The changing definition of news is becoming more lax and open-ended with the expansion of technology, because there are so many forms of getting and engaging in the news. I see this trend continuing as long as technology for news advances and expands.

  5. I agree that there is no way of knowing exactly what the future of news is, but I feel that as a class we all seem to have pretty similar predictions. I think it’s true that social networking and the internet will play a huge role. That’s already clear by how we see CNN and NYT quoting Tweets and citing YouTube videos in serious reports. I think the influence of social media has both a positive and negative impact on the news. From the positive side, we are able to utilize untouched primary sources, comments from real life people who are at the heart of the situations being reported on. Oppositely however, the negative effects of this are that it is virtually impossible to verify some of these sources. There’s no guarantee with sources like these.

    Personally, I see consumer-generated content media becoming more and more prevalent. Sites like Reddit and various blogs may become primary news sources for some people. Before the Daily show and the Colbert Report, I feel like few people would have predicted that young people would trust comedy shows for their news more than the network prime time broadcasts. And yet, young Americans trust these characters more than the “real” journalists. So, sites like Reddit that feature news posted by the people are going to gain more popularity in my opinion. I think the public is growing less and less trustworthy of the news, over any medium, and media that seem more user-produced, raw, and untouched by corporate or political influence will gain in popularity. Not to say that these sources are actually untouched by corporations or politicians, but they definitely make it seem that way. As the public becomes less and less trustworthy of official media outlets, grassroots sources will become more and more utilized. The irony is that these sources are much harder to verify…so is the skeptical and cynical public on its way to getting its news from its unverifiable peers?

  6. When I look back at those “I believe” statements from the beginning of the semester, I can’t help but recognize how precisely correct one of my affirmations was: “I believe that the biggest problem with journalism today is complicated, but so too is journalism.”

    This is exactly how I view the future of journalism: complicated. Will paywalls support traditional news sources that go digital? “It’s complicated.” Will innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit revive a field that has faced such an economic downturn in the last couple years? “It’s complicated.”

    What I do know is that regardless, the journalistic-need will always exist. Though its form and shape may change, it will always exist. It just has to, I believe…..

  7. I agree that online media will become the dominant form of news in the future, with social media playing a major role. We’ve talked before about how many of us hear about a lot of our news via social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and I think that that will become true for even more individuals in the future. Two of the posted articles mentioned charging users for news. I’m curious, will this bar individuals from accessing news/reduce the number of people using social networking sites or do you think that people will pay these fees? Besides providing funding to the company, do these fees have any benefits for a site’s users? Considering the Christian Science Monitor article in tandem with the potential user fees on news and networking sites, do you think that if fewer individuals use these sites because of fees that people across the nation will become less collaborative and less engaged citizens as the article suggests? Or, if you agree with the article, is this more likely to occur on a town-by-town basis?

    • I, too, was concerned about many points that arose in the Facebook article in The Guardian. The movie, Spiderman, said it best with “With great power comes great responsibility.” Facebook has one billion users and could arguably be called one of the most successful websites of today. With everyone on it, everyone getting their news from it, and people getting more or less ‘addicted’ to it, what limits do they have? Facebook is a monopoly with no other sits being quite like it or as boasting as many users. With this power, how could that affect our usage of the site and what we see? You can promote ads and other stories to the top of people’s news feeds – how much does that affect what we see without having a say about it?

  8. While it is really difficult to determine the future of news, I think it has been made clear that if you are a journalist and you want to survive, the internet is the solution. Something that I have been fiddling with this whole semester though is the idea of social media taking over as a dominating news source. While sites like Twitter and Facebook are becoming almost unavoidable, that does not mean that social media is covering all of the topics of news. Maybe it is because I am a student and young adult, but I feel like Facebook and Twitter are more socially guided. If I want to get a real grasp on what is going on in the world, I will not resort to Facebook to inform myself. For now, I feel like paywalls are a decent solution.

  9. Like Clancey, I also went back and reread my “I believe” statements. One sentence stated, “I believe that the biggest opportunity facing news organizations today is learning to take advantage of social media sites to get news to audiences more quickly and stay up to date.” I thought this was fitting for our discussion this week, and I commend the foresight I had when originally writing it.

    I found the article “How journalists can turn their stories into conversations” interesting, and I think the author brings up some great points. I appreciated his argument because I get always annoyed skimming the comment section of an article on blogs or news sites. There’s always that one hateful person that likes to start a war with the other commenters. However, I think his advice for monitoring these users is inadequate. From my perspective, he doesn’t give concrete advice on knowing when to delete a comment or ban a commenter. It seems it is left entirely to the blogger/journalist’s discretion. People who have never monitored a comment section might need more direction. What are some *concrete* guidelines journalists could follow to guide their monitoring process? Are there any specific dos and don’ts?

  10. In my opinion the future of news is headed towards just media and internet articles. I think this transition is a bit away, but when our children grow up the paper boy will be obsolete. With smart phones and laptops becoming more and more common, I just don’t see the need in a newspaper. I hate to be that person who encourages technology over tradition, but it has been awhile since I’ve read a newspaper.

    My parents still get the newspaper, and it costs them a lot of money to do so a year. Perhaps press will stay in business by making usernames with account subscriptions to be able to access the New York Time website for example. I see that becoming a thing when our generation gets older. Do other people agree with me on this? Or do you think the newspaper will be around forever? How often do you read a newspaper rather than consulting some form of digital device for news?

  11. Looking back at myself before this course and now, I can say that I definitely do not plan on becoming a journalist, but have learned a new appreciation to how they are important in my field of health care. I never thought that doctors would want to or have to rely on others to get their research out to the public, but this course has made me realize that those physicians who have positive professional relationships with journalists, such as Dr. Matt Davis from U of M, are able to communicate their work very effectively to the public, and receive national attention to top it.

    I have also learned that the future of medicine involves doctors that are able to communicate with their patients as people, not subordinates. That is to say that doctors need to be able to adjust their methods of communication to their audience. This is not something that I would have really thought of before taking this course.

    Although most may not see this course to be relative to someone on the path to becoming a surgeon, I have found it useful and will treasure the communication skills that I have gained. My future contains knowledge and awareness of public concerns regarding health care, and how I as a physician will be able to address the concerns and questions of a wide variety of people.

  12. Like others, I may not have great desire to become a traditional journalist but I can now more than ever appreciate the great skill that it takes to really convey a balanced scope well. In my professional future, I don’t have immediate aspirations to be a formal journalist but this skill to effective write and write well can be applied to any career. I agree with Clancey, there will always be a need for journalistic writing and positions, I do believe! It is important to recognize that not matter how far we, as a society, may stray from traditional print or journalistic forms, the innovation can only do wonders for our thought processes. The telling of a story is quite powerful and I do believe that this is what we do when we are writing a journalistic piece. It can range from quite a personal narrative with raw emotion to a depiction of current political events that needs to remain objective, but to effectively support and provide more information with a large amount of perspectives to a grand audience is where the storyteller comes in. I look forward to hearing all of your stories, as a journalist or not, and connect to the world around us through the way its told. Best of luck!

    • After reading a bunch of articles for my post I think it’s safe to say that newspapers are a thing of the past — and the declining numbers support this.

      Where the news is heading is a very open question; one which changes seemingly with every new technology that comes out. For example, the radio gave way to the television, the television is giving away to the internet, and so on. Eventually we will see online media give way to some new revolutionary technology.

      The way things are heading now, however, it seems like
      social media will be one of the leading ways for people to quickly and conveniently gather news. So I agree with most people on that. I do feel that using social media as a primary source of news could leave people uninformed, and missing many details — depending on the bias of the reporter/person.

      I am very interested to see how technology evolves within our lifetime and what form of technology we will be
      using to gather news in the near future.

  13. The future of news is an interesting topic, and I come at with an specific frame of reference. I currently work for a social media company, managing clients twitter, facebook, blog and instagram accounts. One of my main tasks is to scour the internet looking for articles relevant to the company, and then to tweet and post that article with commentary. I agree with the many others that said social media will play a major role in the future of news.
    My boss is adamant with me, that my facebook should not be just “social”, that it is a profession outlet whether I like it or not. I’ve begun to see social media sights in an entirely different light.

    Facebook and twitter as platform for news, I think can be a really positive thing. It gives anyone (including us) the opportunity to get involved. How do you think social media will affect the newest generations of journalists? Do you think it will make it easier or harder to break into the industry?

  14. Great discussion. I’d add this: Don’t worry about journalism or news organizations surviving. The business model is evolving — but it’s working. People are hungry for news and information on so many platforms. It’s an exciting time. And there will always be a demand for professional journalists to deliver the meatiest content — news and information and video on social, mobile, desktop, tablet and, yes, print platforms.

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