I've worked as a blogger for over five years and I've watched as well-intentioned PR professionals and companies struggle to meet the needs of new media journalists. They're not sure what to do with us or how to speak our language. “Do we seat them with the traditional press? Why are they texting on their phones during a press conference? What's a hashtag?” seems to be common refrain.
In hopes of closing the gap a wee bit, here are some distinctions between new media and old school traditional journalists I’ll make sweeping generalizations and wild assumptions to make some points. Of course, not all of these apply to every new media journalist.
For the purposes of this list I'll define a new media journalist as a refined and experienced bloggers, usually with more than one blog, each with an emphasis (or beat) on one subject. They may or may not be a professional (paid) blogger. Sometimes called online journalists, new media journalists use the thrilling and immediate avenues of content distribution -- Twitter, Facebook, Instagr.am, Flickr, YouTube, and Google, blogs--and their content usually only appears online. This sets them apart from more traditional journalists.
1.) New Media journalists are a one-person show. Most write, shoot video, appear on camera, photograph, and do all the post editing of materials themselves. Some call themselves “backpack journalists” because they carry everything they need (or roller bag in my case) with them. In the new world of content distribution, the expectation is to post a story that has all the elements -- reaching a reader in a format they prefer. A solid post is well written, has interesting photos and includes a video segment. All provided by the singular new media journalist.
The Three Disneyland Moms Hitting ACC to cover D23
2.) New media journalists don't have the access to professional resources or expensive equipment. When supplying materials to the new media -- like video footage -- keep in mind most are editing video on their computer, so supply them with thumb drives in easily transferable formats (like .mov). I've had companies send me Beta tapes with b-roll. Though nostalgic and heartwarming, old formats like those are useless to a new media journalist. Same goes for stock photo accounts, lavalier mics and copy editors--they don't have access to those things. So news providers should think to supply photos, a relatively quiet place for a video interview and forgive the occasional misplaced semicolon.
Shooting video for OC Family TV on my 7D
3.) They are part of the story. This is one of the biggest philosophical differences between new media and traditional media. It's definitely the biggest mental shift that PR professionals need to make when thinking "new media." The reason bloggers are successful is because readers have taken a liking to their personal view of issues or activities. So bloggers want to interact in more genuine ways with top players in a story. New media journalists have "followings" that can sniff out an inauthentic story. A good new media journalist's highest priorities are providing factually correct and authentic story to their readers.
Shooting interview with Guy.
In practical terms, this means new media journalists prefer a hands-on experience. They want to ride the Zamboni, get a photo with Mickey, or chat with the big brass of a company. They want to tell the story from the inside, narratively. It's a fact, though my journalism professor from college would rather eat the suede patches on his corduroy sport coat than admit it, this is a real shift in the way most readers want to receive their news and information.
I played against Harlem Globetrotters at Honda Center
4.) They report in real time. Twitter, Facebook, Instagr.am, Tumblr, Google +, Flickr, YouTube all allow new media journalist to report the "real-time story" as it happens. According to Technorati, 40 % of bloggers says Smartphones have changed the way they blog. After experiencing the story, they go home and post a more formal blog entry, with nicely edited photos and sharply produced videos. Here lies the real power punch of the new media journalist. Their superpower.
New media journalists often report several stories over an extended period of time -- making their reports more dynamic, nimble and complete.
Jenelyn Russo & I write a sports blog; covering opening of Ducks event
For instance, I recently covered the opening of Disney's new resort in Hawaii. From the moment I got the assignment in September my report of the story began. Through social media I announced I was going to Aualni and gathered questions from readers and followers about what they wanted to know about the resort. I reported in real time the four days I was there, still answering questions and gathering information from followers and readers. By the time I boarded the plane to come home I had written three blog posts, posted two videos, and had photos up on Instagr.am and Flickr. I followed up with two additional blog posts before my print story ran in January. See what I mean? Superpower.
5.) All new media journalists are different. Having said all that, it's best to keep in mind it's the Wild West out there. Some new media journalists would rather drop their iPhone in the toilet than accept a swag bag, while others look at them as payment for their work. Though the concept of journalism without rules or codes of conduct is scary (and I've seen and read some very frightening things), it's also exciting to be part of the new world.
A wide net has been cast. All bloggers have been lumped together, but true new media journalists will rise to the top and continue to grow and become part of the mainstream media (If PR companies don't hire them all away before then). In an ironic twist, I see five years from now that the very things that make blogging appealing and bloggers popular will be the undoing of a lot of them. Freedom. Power. Access. Notoriety. These are fresh ingredients in the new world of journalism. A good new media journalist wields them all wisely.
One last thought on the subject of new media journalists, I don't believe they'll ever replace traditional journalist, specifically reporters. They are distinctively different. Though new media journalists have a place in the media, there is still a dire need and, on a personal note, thankfulness for, traditional journalists. It's important for PR professionals, companies, government agencies and other news providers to know how to prepare and provide content to both.
Other posts from me on New Media:
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