We need to use what now?

While this may seem a strange title, I think it accurately describes my initial reaction to:

a) The compulsory use of social media for Online Journalism (there’s this thing called Twitter, apparently?)

b) The changing face of journalism and its move to the online world.

Before I go any further, some background might be in order.  Many years ago, when I decided that my future would include a Law/ Journalism double degree, I had a vision of being a successful print journalist and seeing my name under headlines in the weekly newspapers (Crown Prosecutor was/ is the other vision, by the way).  However, the more I learn about journalism and the state of the industry, the more it becomes clear that seeing my name in ink may be nothing more than an old-fashioned fantasy.  The reality is (and has been written about by much more authoritative people) that print journalism is on the decline.  Not yet dead, but certainly looking quite pale and reaching for the life support.  The Reaper’s scythe which recently fell on Fairfax’s Sydney and Melbourne printing plants are good examples.  Recent statistics given to us in lectures show print readership is rapidly disappearing – down 12% per year in Fairfax’s case.

So where does this leave me?  Well, while I may not be seeing my name in ink, there’s a good chance I might be seeing it online.  According to statistics from Newspaperworks.com, traffic to newspaper websites was up 42%  in September 2009.  I wouldn’t like to guess what its up to now!  Further,  75% of the world’s population apparently now has access to a mobile phone,* with more and more people using them to access news websites (along with these new-fangled iPad things).  One thing is certainly clear – the modern journalist cannot afford to be stuck in the past, in the world of ink and paper.  They must adapt – ready to deliver breaking news in 140 characters, but also able to write a story that is accurate and meaningful.

Which, in a roundabout, rambling way, brings me to the point of this blog.  Over the next 10 weeks (and beyond), I will be sharing my experiences as I try to come to terms with the world of online journalism – my attempts at analysing online journalism, comparing coverage of stories and issues (and maybe a couple of my own), as well as learning to use all this new technology.  I’m someone who still enjoys sitting down and reading a newspaper, so the thought of using Twitter, Storify etc is somewhat intimidating.  There may be tantrums along the way.

– Dan

*And I bet at least 50% of that 75% have better mobile reception than me!

NB: future posts will hopefully be much more structured, on specific topics and issues – today’s was very much a jumble of thoughts

NB^2: The blog will become prettier over the next few weeks, as I fiddle around with WordPress.

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