Wednesday, 22 October 2008

From Gatekeeper to Facilitator

The possibilities for modern networked journalism seem baffling to me. But looking at the Alison Gow’s very logically constructed blog, I had to agree when she said “I had no idea how thin the ‘old’ opportunities for investigating stories would look compared to the tools at our disposal now.” With this in mind, I decided to ‘investigate’ this post using networked journalism resources. I deleted google from my tool bar, and got comfortable.

Using Delicious, I searched for anything tagged “networkedjournalism” and the first thing I came across (which I managed to “Mento”) was a Buzz Machine article by Jeff Jarvis. Jarvis is something of a pioneer for networked journalism and has been pushing hard to promote its virtues. The article was great for those struggling with networks, giving a really basic definition that I would recommend reading before looking at the likes of Alison Gow. Although I disagree the idea of networked journalism in itself is new (journalism has always been about people) certainly the possibilities the internet provides for its expansion are promising.

Journalists might feel that they’re traditional roles are threatened, but this interview with Jeff Jarvis suggests that while it would be foolish not to move forward with the networked journalism, we do still have a role.

This is perhaps explained more clearly by Charlie Becket (also found on Delicious, also “Mentod”) when he says “The networked journalist changes from being a gatekeeper who delivers to a facilitator who connects.” I like that sound of that.

One criticism of networked journalism is that journalists barely have time to do journalism in the traditional manner let alone use all the options listed by Alison Gow (check out the comments under her blog for a discussion of this). But the Florida example discussed by Becket actually shows networked journalism as time saving. And with tools such as which let you act across multiple forums, there are perhaps less hurdles for journalists to get over than people think. The most difficult part of realising the potential here is getting everyone, but most importantly the public, to look at news in a different way. This is exciting, not frightening. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Dipity is another time saving tool, particularly for research. Acting as a content aggregator it creates a timeline from multiple sources on any topic. Typing in “Jeff Jarvis” brought up a Roy Greenslade article presenting the various sticking points for getting networked journalism up and running in a newsroom when there is little support from owners or proprietors, perhaps something our generation of journalists can hope to change. A few of us created a Cardiff Journalism Dipity channel- I’ve put the Kate Adie lecture on there just to start it off, but people could perhaps link their own blogs or any material they want to share.

I’ve found researching using these tools to be a lot more focussed than simply using a search engine. The material I found was much more likely to be relevant and this demonstrates the advantages of having quick access to active communities with shared histories and causes. For my part I've created a networked journalism channel on Mento if people fancy adding resources to see what people are using.

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