mercredi 24 septembre 2008

What is left to journalists ?

Things have changed. The fact is that the way audience consume information changes the way information is produced and distributed. It changes the people who produce this information and how they do as well.

It changes journalism. It changes journalists. But which journalists?

Let's have a look :

1- When you need 900 journalists to run a print media then put your content online, you don't gain a bigger audience than a thirty journalists media. Anyway, even if you want, you can't build a hundred journalists newsroom because you just don't have the money to.

That's a real threat: this year, in the US, more than 8.000 journalists have been fired in the traditional medias. Will they work online ? No.

A student asked me last month: “But.. If money leaves the print press, it should go to the Internet”. Yes, but money doesn't go to news medias on the Net. It goes to services. It goes to search engines. They are new medias, that trust the ads, but they're not “news” medias. So... less money... less journalists.

Jeff Mignon (in french) and Grzegorz Piechota recently asked the good question:

what is the value of journalism? Jeff asks: Do you think that a news has a value by itself or do you think that the value comes from what you do with this news? At (the new experimental web media I'm in charge of), we just stopped to pay for the AFP and Reuters feeds because they didn't give any value to our production. You still need breaking news, but they're spread everywhere at the same time. You can even be informed of an event before AP and Reuters just by checking your Twitter account...

And there's a new thing: if you are a mass media, you need to send journalists to cover the event. All mass media do it. Consequently, there are thousands of journalists covering the same event at the same time, releasing the same raw news, photos, videos, at the same time. This is what I call closed medias: print, TV...

In a network environment, sending journalists everywhere just to cover news is a nonsense. Because news are shared everywhere for free, instantly, by journalists and citizens.

There's more and more news shared and spread on the network. For network medias, the job now is: how do I connect these news together to make sense emerging from it? How can I give value to news ? How can I bring new material, best links choice, emotion, analysis, sense among this Internet noise, invaded by several million of news?

Have you got the answer? So, another question: who does this job best?

Who is able to make the most accurate aggregation of news? Who can make the best analysis on the financial crisis? Who can open the hottest conversations about politics? Who will be the best expert about the iPhone (journalists or a mobile phone addict)? And even: who is the best to detect the last important breaking news released on the Internet (at, we created teams of super readers who alert us whenever they read something interesting on the Net. They're simple citizens, non journalists, but super readers addicted to news...).

Participative medias, bloggers, and medias based on user generated content showed that most of the time, non journalists where more effective to give value to the news. Not because they're not journalists, but because they know what they're talking about, they can bring emotion, authenticity, knowledge. They're experts, they're witnesses, they're addicted to one matter and they know everything about it. So, maybe it is still journalism. But this new “journalism” is not only, at least, a matter of journalists. Here comes the time of shared journalism.

So, what is left to journalists?

Education of citizens to help them bring the news? Investigation?

That's not only a provocative question.

There will be more and more news, more and more “journalism”, but maybe not with the journalists we know today. And maybe not with journalists. Well... not so much.

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