“Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one” – A.J Liebling
The above quote was written by an American journalist who had been closely linked with The New Yorker before his death in 1963. Back then, the quote might not have had the same impact it does today. Now, the Internet has enabled everyone who owns a computer or a smartphone to have his or her own printing press.
How then, can professional journalists stay afloat despite the rising numbers of citizen journalists? If anyone can now be a journalist if they choose to be, should professional journalists be worried about losing their rice bowls? If you are a journalist, or are en route to becoming one, fear not! I have scoured the net in search of tips by experts on how to remain relevant in the field in the future, and compiled some the best ones below:
1. Know how to get (and handle) data sets – Even as more and more data becomes available to the public, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they know how to interpret and read into it the way a professional journalist can. Being able to see data in news stories (or see stories in a dataset) and communicate findings in a meaningful, creative context will make one a coveted asset.
2. Leverage social media to be everywhere at once (Be Nightcrawler, only… not) – Instead of treating social media as a secondary tool used to promote your work, use it to cultivate a global network of sources and writers.
3. Produce shareable content – Write something that people will WANT to share with their friends or colleagues after they read it. Needless to say, the content has to deliver after your reader clicks upon the catchy headline you spent the last 20 minutes (or perhaps your last bathroom break) trying to perfect.
4. Remember the basics – Stay true to the journalistic values. The ability to check both sources and commas is a timeless requirement, so it is essential never to ignore the old craftsmanship.
Simons (2012, P17) said : “Why educate journalists? Because they will have to reinvent the craft. They will be more important than ever before… All of them will be citizens, with their connections and contributions to society enabled and filtered by media”.
So let’s make the best of it; after all, (no pressure or anything), the future of journalism lies in our hands!
Mescheryakova, T. 2012. News Reporters: Evolve to Stay Relevant, But How? Available at http://sixestate.com/news-reporters-evolve-to-stay-relevant/. Accessed 17 May 2013.
Simons, M. 2012. Journalism at the crossroads. Available at https://uonline.newcastle.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-2034108-dt-content-rid-4828183_1/courses/CRS.106258.2013.T2/Journalismatthe%20Crossroads%20Chapter1.pdf. Accessed 17 May 2013.