Econsultancy.com has a good article for people who find themselves bamboozled by the world of online journalism.
It makes some good points particularly about producing video and building up an online profile.
However, I disagree with a few points:
Embrace Twitter. Twitter is simply a huge echo chamber made up of millions of people. It is absolutely a source of news, but it is not ‘journalism’. That’s your job: to make sense of noise, to validate sources and stories, and to unearth the news. As such journalists should tune into Twitter. Follow influencers and use Twitter as a filter. People will follow you back and you can use Twitter to create an awareness of your work.
Twitter may turn out to be a fleeting platform. Personally I have found it to be very overrated (here’s a NYT article on how kids aren’t sold on the platform). There are many things to prioritise before you end up wasting hours reading your Twitter stream.
Exclusives are passe. All journalists love a good scoop, but an exclusive story doesn’t stay exclusive for very long these days. TMZ bagged the Michael Jackson exclusive but there were more than 1,000 copycat stories on Google News within an hour. Exclusives are great for kudos and links, but ‘scoops of interpretation’ are perhaps just as important. And if you cannot interpret the story then speak to people who can help. Try to join up the dots for readers.
Firstly, the Michael Jackson story was breaking news. It wasn’t really a scoop and TMZ was just the first outlet on it. The Telegraph’s expenses scandal series is proof, if needed, that fantastic exclusives/scoops still exist – they are just few and far between (mostly because of the funding needed).
Points 16 &17:
Objectivity is overrated. Only a very small proportion of published articles in the mainstream media can be considered ‘objective’. Journalists may work hard to file truly objective copy, but any number of editors and sub-editors – not to mention publishers, proprietors, commercial bulldogs and influential advertisers – can transform stories beyond belief. Perhaps it would be better to position yourself on one side of the fence, rather than trying to sit on it? Obviously this won’t work for every kind of story.
Subjectivity kicks ass. Considering the above, is there a way of training your brain to insert a little bit more opinion into your stories? It might be that you’re not allowed to do this right now, given your platform (go start a blog immediately!), or perhaps the story doesn’t allow for it, but my favourite writers all have a strong voice and are happy to holler from time to time. Back your own views. Develop your voice. And don’t be afraid to express an opinion. After all, opinions can help put you on the radar, can help you find new work, and may in fact be the future of the news industry (if they aren’t already).
Obviously I disagree with these points. News journalists must always strive for objectivity as The Guardian so succinctly puts it ‘comment is free, but facts are sacred’.