Tag Archives: Mark Briggs

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

That is the question.

It may not be as poetic or eternal as Shakespeare’s version, but it does hold quite the meaning for today’s journalists.

Is this Twitter thing here to stay? Is it an effective contributor to the media world? Will I benefit from participating in this microblogging phenomenon?

Yes, yes, and yes.  If you aren’t already on Twitter, make your account now. Even if Twitter doesn’t survive, another form of microblogging is likely to take its place, so you might as well get acquainted with it.  At least that’s what Mark Briggs, author of Journalism Next and Journalism 2.0, preaches.

Photo courtesy of journalism20.com

As a visitor to the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication, Briggs spoke to hundreds of journalism students and professors about the future of journalism.  Unlike many traditionalist journalists who think the field has taken a turn for the worst, Briggs sees a bright path ahead.  As long as we are willing to do the leg work.

Briggs emphasizes that we are the future of journalism.  You, me, and ever other aspiring journalist.  Not the current or future technology.  It is up to us to decide where journalism goes.

And if you’ve made that Twitter account, you’ve taken the first step towards influencing the future of journalism. It is a powerful media tool that, if used correctly, can influence millions of people.

As Briggs put it, Twitter is what you make of it.  While some people use it for social purposes, the major Tweet geeks have found more professional and productive uses for their 140 character entries. Whether it be a news article, video, or piece of your own work, Twitter allows its users to share information with the rest of the microblogging world.

If you don’t know what to say, then just listen and learn.  If you follow the right crowd then Tweets can actually add to your education.  The more you read, the more you learn.

If you are worried about privacy, do not fear – you can make your profile private so that only those you give approval to can read your entries.  Doing this keeps you from contributing to the whole sphere, though, so I strongly encourage you to leave it public.

Still skeptical? Start small. Just log on and search a subject that interests you. You might be surprised at what you find.  (Or if you just want an example, check out my Twitter feed on the right of this page.)

Microblogging is just a small piece of the future of journalism.  But it is a step in the right direction.  Who knows where it might lead you.

Take it and run with it.  Find your niche. “Make a dent in the universe” like Briggs hopes you will.

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Competition: a blessing or a burden?

I have often heard it argued that competition fuels progress.  Scientists fight to be the first to prove a new theory.  Athletes push each other to get the new world record.  Journalists scramble to be the first to cover a story.

It is competition which drives us to do better, make advances in our career field.  We view competition as a reason to push ourselves, take risks.

But, as Mark Briggs points out in Journalism Next, sometimes competition can hinder progress.

Journalism is ever changing, with arguably the largest change to date being the incorporation of the Internet.  This transition was, and still is, burdened with uncertainty.  Everything was new and there is so much that had yet to be explored.  But the competition remains.

In this beginning, however, the competition hindered risk taking and advances.  Competition kept journalistic sources from taking risks that would provide better material for their audiences.

I’m talking about link journalism or, as Briggs describes it, the use of  “editorial judgment to provide links to other sources of news and information, based on the needs and interests of a particular audience.”  It is the opposite of competition; it’s collaboration.  It goes against all our competitive instincts, but it can bring new life and depth to journalism if we allow it.

Before the Internet, the option to link one news source to another was simply not there.  Linking one print story to another would only have caused confusion amongst the audience.  So, as Briggs explains, when linking did become an option, many journalists were hesitant:

“For years, linking to ‘the competition’– other news sites –was either explicitly or tactily prohibited.  ‘If we send readers somewhere else, they might not come back,’ the thinking went.”

Link journalism provides the opportunity for reporters to provide more well-rounded coverage of any given story.  It allows readers to see more of what journalists see – what contributes to the article they produced.  This includes previous coverage, background information, and video and photography related to the subject.  And more than that, it challenges reporters to be the source that their audience looks to for great coverage.

It took some bold reporters and editors to start this wave of new journalism, and even bolder ones to take it to the level it has currently reached with link journalism fully incorporated.

Not only has link journalism made its presence known in journalism, but it has also opened to door to even more collaborative journalism strategies such as crowdsourcing, pro-am journalism, and open-source reporting in general.

And to think, if those few bold journalists had listened to their competitive instincts link journalism and all the advantages it offers may not be available today.

Competition: both a burden and a blessing.

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