The plights of a mobile journalist

I want you to get your devices out, and I want you to tweet.

Perhaps a less-than-expected greeting from the teacher in the first lecture of a university class. Except for one little detail.

This class was Online Journalism 1, where we will be learning all the wonderful ins and outs of what it means to be a journalist in this wondrous age of technology.

And if we haven’t already learnt that through our previous year/s of studying journalism, or even just through living our lives, then we need to take a serious reality check. Because not only is technology all around us, enriching our lives, but it is the way of the future, people!

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Gallery sources here, here, here, here, and here.

Let’s be honest. Although technology is helping our day-to-day activities, it will most likely be the cause of our demise. Whether this means we turn into zombies who walk along with our eyes glued to a fake reality instead of a real… reality (what?), or robots turn the human race into their slaves in the future (you’ve seen the movies), I think you must accept that with the good comes the bad.

Equal and opposite reaction, and all that scientific jazz.

But I want to talk about how technology effects people who rely on it to do their jobs. Well, that narrows it down, Amanda.

Okay, I want to talk about journalists.

The people who the public collectively hate.

The people who others claim have no ethics or morals.

The people who are stressed out of their minds glued to three or more different screens trying to meet a rolling deadline, which in this technological age is yesterday.

The modern, multitasking, manoeuvrable journalist. Source: The Thomas Flippen Blog.

Yes, we have feelings too. We have pressure from work to give more than what we have before we know we have it… and if that doesn’t exemplify the stressful juggling act a journalist performs, than I don’t know what will.

University has taught me that journalists now must be able to be a photographer, an editor (of photos, videos, and writing), a publisher, a producer, a writer, and a social media and marketing genius, just to name the basic skill set.


 

The Future of Journalism: Tom Rosenstiel at TEDxAtlanta. Rosenstiel discusses how technology has impacted journalism and news.


 

To be honest, this seems a little scary when I say it like that… but then I think about my life, and realise that I already do all of those things with my own social media accounts. So how hard could it be to do it for a living, right?

Well, as well as being D, all of the above, a modern, mobile journalist must also be first, be right, and have the most compelling story. We must also consider the consequences of our actions in the split seconds before hitting the button that will publish a possible half-truth for the world to see.

Enter: the bad.

Once something is on the internet, it’s on the internet.

Sure, you can take it down. But you can guarantee – especially if you’re in the public sphere, like, say, a journalist – that someone has taken a screenshot of that unchecked piece of information that turns out to be false, or saved that incorrectly captioned picture, or republished that offensive post.

Example: See the Instagram account dedicated to posting Justin Bieber’s deleted posts.

So in the spirit of anti-public crucifixion, what news value must suffer? Being first? Being right? Being interesting? Is one more important than the other? Can you say, publish a story first without properly checking the facts and be forgiven if you get something wrong, or should you wait longer and publish later than others, just to get your facts straight? Or should you just not include the most interesting piece in your story, simply because you don’t know whether it’s true?

So, although technology has given us freedom – freedom of expression, easy access to information etc. – it also adds all sorts of pressures to not only journalists’ jobs, but to their entire industry.

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