By: Melissa Beyer (@MelisBe)
Of all the industries that have converged with new media, few have been so greatly affected by the encounter as news organizations. From the national level to the local, new media are revolutionizing the news. Joel Christopher, editor/digital at Post-Crescent Media, was kind enough to share with me in an interview some of the ways that new media have changed and challenged the news industry.
In addition to a website and print newspaper, Post-Crescent Media makes use of Facebook, Twitter, live streaming video and other new media platforms. Part of Christopher’s job as editor/digital includes producing content for new media platforms as well as supervising others who are doing so.
Though the advent of social media platforms has radically changed the media world, Christopher said the change is a positive one.
“With the fragmentation of news sources you have so much more information available to you,” Christopher said. “And that forces news organizations too to make sure that they’re not getting too narrowly focused and not all following the same path on a story.”
Christopher also said that the changes that new media have brought are good for the public.
“The more information that’s available to people the better,” Christopher said. “And that’s what digital media gives you, and it gives readers, viewers the ability to shape the news to some extent by their reactions to it. It allows them to raise questions that may have been missed; it allows them to provide information in ways that they weren’t able to do in the past. I don’t see how more information is ever a bad thing.”
Yet, despite these positive aspects, new media also have their disadvantages. One such drawback comes from an obscure economic model.
“Resources are more limited than they were, and that means things fall through the cracks, or that decisions have to be made to not cover certain things,” Christopher said.
New media platforms present another challenge with their demand for speed.
“The churn of the news cycle is so short now that it presents some pitfalls,” Christopher said. “Accuracy is always an issue and the faster you work and the fewer hands are on something, the more likely mistakes are to occur and that you can get caught up too much in the chase instead of looking at a bigger picture and trying to get into deeper levels of journalism.”
Despite these difficulties, Christopher said that, “It will all be figured out at some point.”
Nevertheless, aspiring journalists should be prepared to join a career field that will be characterized by change.
“It’s not a business anymore for the change averse,” Christopher said. “I think the main thing is that journalists have to accept the idea that their job is going to change constantly.”
Notwithstanding these changes, some aspects of journalism will remain constant.
“I don’t know what the delivery of news will be in five years,” Christopher said. “But I know that there’s always going to be a hunger for news, and that there’s going to be a need for people who have specialized training and skills and judgment to play a role in producing it.”