Online and off, credentials and opinion living in harmony

I’ve been thinking recently on how the social media landscape has impacted communications – well I think of it a lot it is my job.

Thinking how it affects how we write for the media.  Everything we learnt in media school on how to introduce an article is done. in the past.  No longer do we try for the how-what-when-where-why in the opening 25 words.  It is now a battle.  A battle to get people to read the headline.  If they read the headline, to get them to read the first paragraph, then the second and so on.

We promote things differently – we love our blogs and, apparently, we love our Facebook posts that start “Click like if…”

I have also started to read Socailnomics by Erik Qualman.  It is a solid read so far.  The economy of the internet – how people drive it, make it successful.  How this has made traditional media difficult to maintain.

The text struggles – to an extent – with issues like core marketing and business principles and their application to social media.  Some might like to search for something like – social media is a new set of tools not a new medium to get some balance, if reading Socialnomics.  It does raise great points on why blogging is so successful and why traditional media is struggling.

Certainly there is one issue that I have with how Socialnomics treats blogs – it is not that the book is wrong – quite the opposite, Qualman has got the thing right – bloggers lack of bureaucracy and ability to just write on opinion an tweets means they are quicker and access people in a more efficient way than a journalist (see p22 of the book).

Despite being heavily involved in social media and public relations (the kind of behaviour that exhibited can be great for people like me) when you are looking for news, hard hitting news, I like to side with Aaron Sorkin (through quotes in both Studio 60 and The Newsroom) where I like my journalists to have credentials.  To put research in.  To have consequences if things are wrong.

To that extent, the internet is catching up again.  Paywalls for major newspapers may limit news dissemination, but the quality is more assured than what it was before.  Business models like that use by the Huffington Post helps too.

Print too, is making a comeback.  Magazines, at least, have way to fight back and in The Guardian’s article – Who Said Print is Dead, niche magazines have bucked the downturn – both producing great content, high sales, and high profitability.

In this way, print and internet can live side by side, producing great content both for those who want their friends opinion and those wanting credentialed journalists – and most want both.

Now, as a society and as a profession, we just need to get past Facebook posts that commence with “Click like if…”

Sam Tickell

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