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Online Journalism

reflections on a changing medium

Social networking sites are everywhere. Almost everyone I know has either a Twitter, a Facebook, a LinkedIn, or a Myspace. Some people have one of each! Not until recently, though, have these tools become widely used by businesses and news outlets. I never really thought much of having profiles on these sites. I just saw it as a fun activity that I took part in in order to connect with my friends, especially the ones who now live across the country. Now employers at media organizations are frequently asking job candidates about their social Web media skills.

“‘In the old days, most journalists thought it was their job to write a story, and it was someone else’s job to distribute it, market it and find an audience for it,’ says Alan Murray, executive editor, online for the Wall Street Journal. “In the new world, the journalist has a responsibility for the whole set.”

Here, Alan Murray, an online editor for the Wall Street Journal is talking about the changing role of journalists and the blurring of lines between the roles of reporters, photographers, videographers, Web designers, marketing and advertising. This could be a positive thing as the journalist who produced the story, gathering information firsthand and interacting with subjects, would also be producing and displaying the rest of the media package that their written work might be part of. This could lead to more cohesive media packages and less of a disconnect between the creative ideas of individuals working on different parts of the project.

On the other hand, though, there’s a reason why, historically, journalists have been separated from marketing and advertising sections of news outlets physically and otherwise. If the journalist is made responsible for these tasks that hold economic consequences, as well as gathering and reporting information, it is possible that the stories that are being reported upon could be influenced by advertisers or those whom the news outlet has a stake in pleasing for the sake of profits.


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