Matthew Petro

Coffee is my energy drink of choice.

Why do journalists feel threatened by new media?

I was watching Jeff Greenfield’s commentary on media convergence on CBS News Sunday Morning, and as part of his closing, he commented that regardless of the medium, the basics of journalism still apply: good storytelling, clear and vivid language and a respect for history. This was very interesting to me, since I’ve been thinking and hearing a lot about old vs. new media. Over the past week, I attended both Beverly Kidd‘s brown bag talk on new media through an old media lens and Social Media Club Phoenix‘s panel discussion of Old Media Using New Media.

Throughout the two events, I heard a lot about how many journalists are integrating new media into their daily work, but how many other journalists, as well as executives and corporations are struggling to understand the impact and usefulness of new media. After hearing Greenfield’s commentary, I realized that many in journalism are hung up on the business and format of their particular media, instead of being focused on the basics of delivering a good story. It really shouldn’t matter to a reporter in a print-based medium that their story will be published online, nor should it matter to a TV reporter that their story will be available via streaming video, rather than aired on a TV channel.

It also shouldn’t scare any reporters (or executives, for that matter) that their stories will be commented on and debated immediately, thanks to user comments on web sites. I know that many of these comments devolve into a cesspool, but good public comments should be welcomed by journalists, not shunned. Journalists don’t hand down knowledge from above, they report on the communities in which they work and in doing so, need to listen to what the communities have to say.

The great hallmark of new media is that it fosters two way communication. This is what old media isn’t used to, and is what smart media companies and journalists must embrace to succeed.

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