The internet has changed what it means to be a journalist. It challenges conventional ideas about what reporters do. Your readers don’t need you to file your story by the 6pm deadline. They don’t need you to tell them what they could easily google themselves. Publishing an article is no longer the end of a process. It’s just the beginning.
Your readers need something different.
Monica Guzman’s presentation Journalism and the Self-Informing Public gets close to what a journalist in the age of the internet does now.
Journalists are still the best at discerning fact from fiction. The journalist links to good information, even if it means sending readers to competitors. In guiding the public to good information, the journalist builds trust. The journalist no longer just publishes information. They help guide the public to useful information.
Be the best version of yourself in your actions and in practice. Temptation to link out, retweet or share sensational images will always be there. When you have made a mistake, take responsibility. The journalist and the public share the same pixel space, participate in the same platforms, but we operate under different ethics. As Guzman notes, “we practice good information discipline.” Education is part of how we model. Being transparent, letting your readers know about your process, is part of our role as journalists.
We Convene, Join
Our work begins when we publish. Our readers react, respond, share and, as Guzman notes, “standing outside of that doesn’t make sense anymore.” The conversation is the content. It’s the story. There’s no reason to distance yourself from the public. Now more than ever we join the conversation and elevate the discourse.
Cultivating strong self-informing communities is itself an act of journalism.
What happens when we think of journalism not as an article, but an act. This attitude, this mode of operating online, helps the flow of healhty information. What are journalists good for? They join conversations, model best practices and always guides the public to good information. We need it now more than ever.