Posts Tagged ‘future’


The need for journalism

Last night, John Oliver used humor to make a point about the future of this industry.

A portion of his HBO program Last Week Tonight was devoted to a look at journalism, and the future of newspapers, amidst the decline of advertising revenue. In a near 20 minute segment, Oliver examined the case for journalism, through a monologue and a satirical skit of the film Spotlight, and how the direction of newspapers and other aspects of the industry will dictate how journalism is conducted moving forward.

Yet, his quote towards the end before the filmed skit resonated the biggest challenge for journalism yet, and what will happen to the industry down the road if nothing is done about it.

“Sooner or later, we are either going to have to pay for journalism or we are all going to pay for it,” Oliver said.

Oliver’s monologue about paying for journalism reflects a generational divide, a generation accustomed to paying for news through newspapers versus a generation, through the internet and social media, accustomed to getting content for free, and reluctant to pay for it, exacerbated in this social media age.

I am a part of that latter generation. I am a 24 year old who has access to an abundance of information no matter the circumstance — anytime, anywhere, all for the low, low price of $0.00.

It is worth investing in subscriptions to papers like The New York Times, for it will bring significant long-term benefits. (Photo: Haxorjoe/Wikimedia Commons)

It is worth investing in subscriptions to papers like The New York Times, for it will bring significant long-term benefits. (Photo: Haxorjoe/Wikimedia Commons)

Yet, compared to my peers, I am willing to invest in that content. Every day, a newspaper arrives at my house — The Wall Street Journal Monday through Saturday, and the Chicago Tribune on Sunday. But on the same token, I also look at sites that are either paywalled or have their content for free — from The Guardian to The New York Times, the BBC to Reuters and NPR, and periodically — The New Yorker. I also will find content linked either from Twitter or Facebook. I also have a digital subscription to the Journal that ties in with the newspaper subscription.

I read to stay informed of the world around me and to keep up with trends — I read the Journal, the Guardian and others because an informed and educated public is beneficial for our society, and for democracy, something journalism can give. It is something that I am not afraid to pay for.

Those in this industry enter it and seek work in it because we believe in the fundamental principles for which it is associated. We subscribe to its ideas and its values align with our own. We believe in the cause for an informed public and an enhanced civil discourse — that those in power must be held to account, that the work we do together can do the most good.

I believe in the role journalism has in our world, and the role information and education can have in making the lives of others better. I can’t imagine a circumstance where the world is bereft of journalism, which is why its worth supporting and paying for.

It is important for all of us to invest in journalism, for your investment now will result in a significant investment down the road, in the education and knowledge that comes from the pages, in print and online, about your world and your life. That alone has more benefits than seeing a video of a raccoon cat time and time again.

So, subscribe to journalism. Support my friends and colleagues who believe in making the world better, and invest in democracy. Trust me, it’s worth every penny.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributor to the SPJ blog network. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is a Managing Editor and contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Why the world needs journalism students

In the final scene of the legendary sitcom Frasier, as the eponymous character prepares to embark on a new chapter in his life and career, he sits at the microphone at fictitious Seattle radio station KACL and recites a passage from Ulysses, the poem by Lord Tennyson.

I think about it now as I sit down and write this blog post, conscious of the fact that many journalism students, as well as some of my colleagues and the student writers I work with at Kettle Magazine, are completing their degrees, and contemplating their next steps.

In that poem, as Frasier interprets it, it is about taking that chance. As the idea of journalism evolves in the digital age, many of us within the past few years (myself included), have rolled the dice to see if we can be able to work in a profession that matters so much to society, for fear of regret later in life.

We have asked ourselves many questions as we shook and rolled the dice. Am I able to get a job? Will the work I do be meaningful? Can I make a useful contribution to the profession itself? We wonder if all of our work will pay off, or if we went down the conventional path only to find a dead end, and that everything we have done and hoped for will never come to fruition.

Students graduate university, ready for what's next. (Photo: DariaRomanova/Wikimedia Commons)

Students graduate university, ready for what’s next. (Photo: DariaRomanova/Wikimedia Commons)

But you needn’t worry yourself, for you, dear journalism student, are still needed and valued. You will be successful, yet you may face difficulties along the way.

Even though journalism is changing, journalists are still a necessity, no matter the platform, a point emphasized especially by the former New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan. The men and women of this industry, irrespective of medium, are making a contribution that has no price tag, even though the business of journalism is trying to figure out the best way to monetize the offerings.

The idea of journalism in the 21st century has evolved, most notably because of the internet and social media. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram are becoming hubs for content, while the line between news and comment is being blurred, raising questions on the value of facts and accurate information. However, there is an important relationship our society has with journalism — it can inform and engage, which helps our democracy.

It has been at the foundation of the industry’s development, from the beginnings of newspapers and the printing press, to the invention of radio and television, and now the rise of the internet and social platforms. The people who entered this profession were like you — they were not after fame or fortune, but they wanted to make a difference, improve the quality of life, and to help improve the civil discourse by informing and engaging the public to help them make decisions in their everyday tasks.

Many people have proclaimed that journalism is dead, but that isn’t true. You have a purpose in this ever changing media landscape, to hold politicians and powerful people to account, to put context on the events that matter, to shine a light on this ever-changing world we live in, but most importantly to inform the individuals that matter most — your audience.

You will still have a role in journalism, for you are bound to do great things, exciting things, wonderful things, and in the end, you will have the knowledge that you are doing the most good you can for people around you.

The mediums may change, but the norm remains the same. The world always needs journalists, and you, graduating journalism student, will always be needed, not just now, but in the days, months and years ahead.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to Net Worked on social media’s role in the future of journalism. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Long Form Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Instant Articles: A revolution in journalism

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose social network launches the Instant Articles initiative today. (Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr under CC)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose social network launches the Instant Articles initiative today.
(Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr under CC)

Today, Facebook is launching its Instant Articles initiative, where news organizations will be hosting content on the social network’s site.

The official confirmation comes in a blog post from Facebook after previous reports, most notably in March from the New York Times, prompting rampant speculation as to what role Facebook would have, and how it would exactly affect the relationship it had with publishers.

There are nine publishers taking part, including the Times, BuzzFeed and the BBC. The feature is to start on Facebook’s iPhone platform, but expand in the coming months, the social network said, noting more publishers would also be involved in due course. Additionally, publishers are to take the revenue generated from advertisements in that content. Facebook says it allows publishers to provide a better experience for readers.

In that blog post, Mark Thompson, the chairman of The New York Times Company, said the move was significant because of the Times’ audience on the platform.

“The New York Times already has a significant and growing audience on Facebook,” Thompson said. “We’re participating in Instant Articles to explore ways of growing the number of Times users on Facebook, improving their experience of our journalism and deepening their engagement.”

With the release of this initiative, this opens a new chapter in social media journalism, especially Facebook’s role, and will be a revolution in the relationship between the consumer and the news organization.

Dick Costolo may be leading Twitter into a news production age if they acquire Circa. (Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr under CC)

Dick Costolo may be leading Twitter into a news production age if they acquire Circa.
(Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr under CC)

While it is early and the number of partners are limited, the move by Facebook, and indeed speculation of acquisitions and experiments by other social network sites, notably Twitter’s rumored acquisition of Circa, and Snapchat’s decision to hire Peter Hamby as head of news which is likely to affect its Discover feature, this will lead to a change in the thinking of journalism in the social media age.

Facebook has taken the bold step by becoming more than just a way to curate discussion on the news. It has become the news.

Today’s launch of Instant Articles will have significant implications on journalists working on the web. The relationship between social media and editorial content has changed, and while whether if it is positive or negative remains for the moment uncertain, it will change not just how we think about a story, but how we can engage with our audiences.

This is an important time for journalists near and far to consider this initiative and the future of their role in social media journalism, not just on Facebook, but on other platforms, for more moves like this may be on the horizon. We owe it to not just our colleagues in the profession, but ultimately our audience, to be ready for what is ahead, whether you write for a newspaper, produce for TV or radio or for online.

Facebook has shown us what is ahead in social media journalism, and perhaps for the industry as a whole. It is up to us to how we respond to it.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Deputy Editor, Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. Veeneman also blogs for the web site ChicagoNowYou can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Women Who Lead: Newsroom and Beyond

As a young girl, I didn’t idolize Princess Diana; I didn’t know who Audrey Hepburn was until my freshman year of high school; Barbie was just a logo on a box in my basement, not my inspiration.

Crazy as it sounds, I wanted to be Jesse Owens: the fastest man in the world.

Growing up with one younger brother, I spent most of my childhood playing catch in the backyard, ranking and rooting for football teams, and–of course–competing in neighborhood, Olympic-esque sprint races.

It didn’t really occur to me that I should want to be like a traditional lady–calm, composed, reserved–until much later in my adolescence. From a very early age, I was encouraged to fight for my place in the starting lineup, to prove that I could be just as agile and able as my male counterparts, both on the field and in the classroom. My parents encouraged me to stand up for myself, and I sure didn’t back down just because I was a girl.

Much of that same assertiveness (some may call it bossyness) has carried over into my adult life. There’s nothing in this world that seems impossible or unattainable purely because I am woman. With practice, preparation, and devotion, I truly believe there’s nothing I cannot achieve.

I bring this up because I want to encourage women of all ages to assert themselves in their careers, whether it be in the newsroom or in their careers beyond.

Last week, I attended a panel of journalism professionals to celebrate media entrepreneurship in this ever-evolving field. And only one of those panelists was a female.

But she didn’t shy away from her fellow panelists. In fact, she herself–dressed in a crisp white blazer and killer stilettos–encouraged all of the young women in the audience to fight for gender diversity in their own newsrooms.

Echoing Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” message, Bo Hee Kim challenged us to speak up for our own accomplishments and ideas, to demand equal opportunities in the newsroom, in order to provide more complete news coverage for an audience that’s both male and female.

And I admired this about Bo. For her to come into a college setting and express that she still faces gender bias in the 21st century was kind of alarming to me. She admitted that the bias appears on a much smaller scale than in the early 1900s, but the subtleness is still there.

Perhaps that’s the most important message I took away from #CommWeek15 at Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication. Women have received more respect and attention in the workforce since the dawn of the women’s movement, but we’re still years away from being equal contributors in the workforce–especially in the newsroom.

When will it not be excited gossip for a woman to earn a top-tier position as an editor or business executive? When will gender bias not be a revolutionary court case, but merely an action we as a society cease to participate in?

I hope to live in a world where a woman can be commended on her accomplishments, regardless of if she wears a necklace and shiny pears. A woman’s ideas should be celebrated because she is a forward-thinker, a visionary, and someone who is insanely intelligent–not just because she is a woman.

Bethany N. Bella is studying at Strategic Communications and Environmental Political Science at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Connect with her on Twitter @bethanynbella or browse her work at bethanybella.com.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

 

What do communities say about SPJ’s future?

In this Net Worked guest post, SPJ national president Dana Neuts looks at the role of the communities, including SPJ Digital, the community where this blog operates, and what these communities mean for the future of SPJ.

It’s an exciting time to be an SPJ member!

What started out as a borrowed idea several years ago has turned into an exciting reason to be an SPJ member – SPJ communities. This new community structure has created opportunities for more people to be involved in areas of mutual interest and to have a say in SPJ’s future. The concept began with the formation of the SPJ Freelance Community in the summer of 2013.

A year and a half later, we have five communities: Freelance, Digital, International, Generation J and Students.

Here’s how it works. Each community is self-governing, choosing its own mission, goals, tools and leaders. This differs dramatically from the committee structure where some of these communities originated. Committees and committee chairs are selected by the SPJ president who also provides direction as to what he or she wishes the committee to accomplish for the year.

The committees by their very nature are restricted in size with an average of half a dozen to a dozen members. The communities, on the other hand, are unlimited in size and are in control of their own future with support and guidance from the president, the community coordinator (volunteer Alex Veeneman), and SPJ staff (primarily Tara Puckey and Billy O’Keefe).

For some groups, the committee structure works well and remains in place (e.g., FOI, Ethics, Journalism Education Committees), but some members are better served by the community structure. So far, the communities have been a success generating interest among members and nonmembers, providing additional leadership opportunities, as well as opportunities for community members to learn from each other, share ideas and resources, and network with each other.

This fundamental shift also helps SPJ adapt to our rapidly changing industry, react more quickly to relevant news, and provide resources and input on areas of interest. For example, following the Charlie Hebdo attack, International Community Chair Carlos Restrepo wrote a blog post about press freedom, including quotes from a community member based in France. While I made a statement on behalf of the organization, Restrepo was able to provide a different perspective, complementing my statement.

SPJ’s new communities allow us to expand our reach beyond our members and to become more diverse in terms of age, race, culture, background, discipline, etc. The more voices we have, the better we can collectively fulfill SPJ’s mission which ultimately benefits us all. It is encouraging to see the enthusiasm of our community members, and I am eager to see our communities grow.

Want to learn more? Contact me at dneuts@spj.org or community coordinator Alex Veeneman at alex.veeneman01@gmail.com. We’d love to tell you how the communities can help you!

Based in Seattle, Dana Neuts is a full-time freelance writer, editor and marketing pro. She is also the publisher of iLoveKent.net, a hyperlocal blog focused on community news and events in Kent, Washington. She is currently serving as the national president of SPJ. You can learn more about Neuts at http://VirtuallyYourz.com or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/virtuallyyourz or http://twitter.com/spjdana.

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