Journalism and Social Media

I’ve been thinking a lot about journalism, the celebrification of journalists, social media and the amateur celebrity. Now, you’re probably all familiar with the first three, but the last concept has been half-baked in my head for a while, help clarify it if you can. The amateur celebrity is the person who attains some status from social media – I’m one, you’re one, we’re all one if you’re publishing on the Internet. There needs to be some distinction between the producers and remixers of content, the pure recyclers of content (usually those who just post links without commentary) and the consumers. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pure consumers – not everyone has something to add to a discussion, although that doesn’t stop them from putting in their two cents regardless. I think the act of publishing and producing content, even remixing content, is very close to what journalists do – take a remix for instance. One takes existing content, puts their own spin on it and publishes. Isn’t that what an editor does when publishing for a newspaper or online source? Take the written piece, select an appropriate image from one of a several news wire service, ¬†maybe tweak the written bit to fit for space and style…

So what separates journalism from social media publishing? Accountability, research, time… certainly a lot of the blogs I read put in many hours just to publish a couple paragraphs, the owners of those blogs have a reputation and have an expertise in the subject, so what’s the difference? It’s hard to say, but it’s got to be a fundamental reason that newspapers are down as well as other traditional media.

New Journalism

I am not a sports fan per se, but I do follow the local(ish) Toronto teams. I started following the Raptors (the Toronto NBA franchise) after reading the work of the Toronto Star’s reporter Doug Smith, and moreso his blog. Each week¬† he’d take questions from his readers, he now does in game live blogging, and in general does a great job of using the blog for the best of what it can do. This weekend’s mailbag brought an interesting question about the journalism side of his job (the first one in the list this week). What surprised me was that there’s two separate editorial desks, one for web and one for print – that the Star is consolidating. I always thought the two mediums were distinct enough to require specialization, but I guess not. The second thing that surprised me was that Doug makes mention of the tidbits that used to be left out, are now web-bits for the blog.