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21st Century Reporting

I have been a terrible blogger, as the redoubtable Wes Pedersen would be the first to tell you. The basic reason for this is I have always done my writing in the mornings. But my lifestyle (enter baby) no longer cooperates the way it used to, so I  must refocus my energies to other times of day. Let this be the first entry of the new era…

David Carr’s in Monday’s New York Times struck a nerve, celebrating a whole new approach to reporting that is finding its way into newsrooms everywhere, citing a colleague’s recent story: “On Saturday, Mr. Stelter’s wonderful article in The New York Times on how people were working around the blackout on the Olympic ceremony began as a post on Twitter seeking consumer experiences, then jumped onto his blog, TV Decoder, caught the attention of editors who wanted it expanded for the newspaper and ended up on Page One, jammed with insight and with plenty of examples from real human experience.”

PRWeek’s own excellent reporting team is using Twitter, and blogs, contact management systems and social media, and myriad other methods to explore topics with the public relations community and beyond. No doubt these tools have enabled already great journalists to find even better ways to work. Thus did word processing replace the typewriter, only a true Luddite could object to the progress that continues to be made.

But reporters risk becoming their efforts becoming commoditized even further than they already have been if they avow that these tools are changing the fundamentals of journalism. In fact, part of the challenge for journalism ongoing will be to tune out the clamor and find the hidden stories, the unwilling sources, the unpopular topics - the “boring but important” stories, to use The Week’s wonderful section name - that no one but the most dedicated reporter will commit to seeking out.

6 Comments so far

  1. Was ist media? « Chris Thilk on August 13th, 2008

    [...] 21st Century Reporting - Forget news gathering. The most important usage of these new tools and techniques is in relationship building with those individualistic media. If I know you personally I’m more likely to link to you. [...]

  2. Julia Hood on August 14th, 2008

    Absolutely. In essence, they are marketing tools.

  3. Wes Pedersen on August 14th, 2008

    Nice to have you back, Julia.

    I assume your reference to me as redoubtable is more in tribute to the great stamina of the racehorse of that name than it is to Redoubtable, the battle-scarred French ship that ended up as a rusting bucket of nuts and bolts.

    You are right, of course, that journalism, like PR, is undergoing dramatic changes, but the secret for both reporters and PR pros is still “You’ve got to find a hook.”

    Great byline reporters know how to find the hook that makes their output different from the dreck of hacks. Same for the PR greats and potential greats.
    Those in journalism and PR who chant “It’s the technology, stupid” have it only partly right. It’s what you do with what you’ve got, and how you do it better, that’s still the name of the game.

  4. Julia Hood on August 14th, 2008

    re·doubt·a·ble –adjective
    1. that is to be feared; formidable.
    2. commanding or evoking respect, reverence, or the like.

    The first definition is the one that you summon up for me, Wes…

  5. Wes Pedersen on August 14th, 2008

    Now your first definition I can buy, but not even a teeny bit of No. 2?

    I’ll No. 2 under Zingers that Zmart.

  6. Julia Hood on August 14th, 2008


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