Journalism is not dead, in spite of what many in the industry bemoan, it’s simply that the industry is changing. Drastically. Photojournalist Teru Kuwayama is doing just that: frustrated by traditional outlets, he spent the last year as a Knight Fellow researching new means for content distribution. This year, he’s surprised himself by winning a Knight Foundation Grant to use his new content distribution model to report from Afghanistan.
Audiences are increasingly fragmented, diverse in their interests and able to refine how, and what, they view. Largely because of the internet. RSS feeds, Digg, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are online tools allowing viewers to pick and choose their content; no longer are they bound to the morning paper and the five o’clock news hour.
As content dissemination changes, so does the role of the journalist. Objective reporting is the journalist’s creed–though “objective” is becoming increasingly less so (think FOX News versus NPR). Journalists can now publish via the web, circumventing the filters of large publishers, and so can citizens, eyewitnesses to events. Being so close to the source, their view may be myopic and rife with opinion. This may be where the journalist’s role is changing. He or she may become more a curator of information provided by eyewitness sources, feeding to the web. That means journalists need to maintain a technological leg-up on content distribution, utilizing and designing new platforms. The tool is no longer just the pen or camera.
Where does this leave traditional media outlets? They’re still powerhouses, backed by infrastructure and revenue, but I believe as their content suffers, as viewers grow increasingly fragmented, and as technology allows additional means of distribution, traditional media will need to evolve or be relegated to the back channels of the new media world. Which may not be a bad thing.
What Kuwayama has done is use largely existing technology and code to create a website that leverages social media. His publication is Basetrack, his distribution Facebook and other social media, his photojournalists are himself, Balasz Gardi, and Tivadar Domaniczky in the field, with support from the States. His reporters are the marines, their family, and their friends who also become their readers. It is a social media microcosm of news dissemination curated by journalists.
Does this mean Facebook is the new news platform?
Read More About Kuwayama and Basetrack:
• Q&A at journalism.co.uk
• On PBS.org
• NY Times Lens Blog interview by war photographer Michael Kamber
• Knight Foundation Grant
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