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"Write something worth reading or do something worth writing" A blog by Amy Willis, a multimedia journalist based in London

News Mapping- the next big thing?

I find the concept of Murmur and psycogeography fascinating. It combines human interest and creativity in a multimedia narrative.

Some news sites are already playing around with the concept. This technology can be seen on Reuters and a nifty site called fo.reca.st.

I would like to see more media companies making more use of this tool. It would be brilliant if news events were plotted on an interactive news map on a regular basis. It would put more emphasis on local news and local issues. The public will be able to locate the news stories which have the closest proximity to themselves, friends and family.

The internet has already enabled the public to tailor their news. This feature could enhance it further. It would also give the reader a 3D image of issues in their area, around the country and also around the world.

But it has yet to take off fully, mainly because all good ideas need time to establish themselves. But watch this space, I think this could be the next step in multimedia journalism.

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Brand battle playground

My name is Joe Bloggs and I would like to read the news online- where do I look?

Easy, I do a search on Google for ‘news‘. I get all the big broadcasters CNN, BBC News, MSNBC, Fox news and ABC but also there are the news aggregaters such as Google news, Yahoo news and news.com.au. Which do I choose?

Ok, so my name is not really Joe Bloggs but this illustrates a point: unless the public have a specific news provider in mind, it is unlikely they will venture further than page one of their search results. This is why internet branding has become key to the media world.

Media brands are central to networked journalism. Branding is essential because like with any network, people can recommend you to their friends or forget you exist.

At the moment newspapers are relying on their existing brand reputation to draw visitors to their sites. But the battle is just warming up. The newspapers are testing their tools. Video clips, RSS feeds, bookmarking, blogs, search engine optimisation, twitter, tagging, breaking news reports and exclusive stories are all being used.

And who will be the winner? Joe Bloggs of course. His news service is now interactive, more varied and there is an ever increasing importance that the information is reliable and trustworthy.

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Check the dictionary

I love the concept of ‘citizen journalism’ but I find the use of the word ‘journalism’ or ‘journalist’ misleading in this context.

Take a look at the Oxford English Dictionary.

Journalist: 1) One who earns his living by editing or writing for a public journal or journals; 2) One who journalizes or keeps a journal.

Clearly there is a distinction between one type of journalist and the other. However, in talking about ‘citizen journalism’ everyone automatically assumes we are referring to the first definition or an amateur form of this. There are no amateur professionals. This is clearly an oxymoron.

Blog entries are similar to journal entries. They give personal experiences and opinions. The difference is simply that in this modern era, these journals have become interactive.

Dorset Elk

The Dorset elk (by John McColgan, courtesy of http://www.publicsafety.net/john_m.htm)

So why indulge this misunderstanding?

It is causing confusion. It is spreading an unnecessary pandemic of negativity as some people are failing to see the difference.

Citizen journalism is a source of news in its raw form. It is not the news. The news should be a collaboration of sources. It should not rely on one source alone- mistakes happen this way.

Professional journalists work hard to bring these sources together. To use the term ‘journalist’ for raw source data seems illogical.

Let us call it something different. Suggestions to be posted below please.

Filed under: blog posts, Online Journalism, ,

Money Matters

As a trainee newspaper journalist, media convergence is great. It means I can use a variety of media platforms and it gives me broader scope. Yet, as an economic recession looms, can convergence become a double-edged sword?

With advertising budgets being slashed in fear of the credit crunch, there may be a danger that Managing Editors and Publishers may see ‘multi-skilled journalism’ as a cost-cutting euphemism. Let’s not fall into the scape-goat trap. It would be foolish to deny media convergence in favour of ignorance. In implementing a multimedia environment, we are keeping ahead of the game, not digging our career graves.

Have ‘citizen journalists’ become our competitors? No, it would be a contradiction to our values to want these people silenced. Journalists are here to aid democracy and represent the public. It is our responsibility to investigate further, to find the truth, and filter the crap. That is our USP.

Multimedia reporting gives us more opportunities. We can now reach a wider audience and this means more potential for advertisers (like it or not but free and impartial journalism needs a budget). Yes we are approaching a recession, but media convergence is keeping our heads above water, not dragging us down.

So to those in fear, don’t worry. We just need to maintain our core values. I don’t think we have fully unlocked all the digital doors and we may find some hidden treasure.

Filed under: blog posts, Online Journalism, , , , ,

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