Technology evolves methods of journalism, not purpose

Story by Anna Maria Gardiner, Robin Hendricks, Maddie Mason and Michaela Baker

From the scribbling of a pencil to the clicking of the keyboard, journalism is ever-evolving in the face of the new technological age.

What once used to be a field dominated by print newspapers is quickly making its way to the online community, adding a new layer of possibilities to the world of reporting.

“I think [technology’s] improved [journalism]. And I think it’s given some nostalgia to journalism as a whole,” Wordless News creator Maria Fabrizio said. “I think in the long run it’s improved it, but it’s so different from even 10 years ago.”

With widespread access to the internet, smaller news sources are reaching larger audiences, expanding their influence and information.

“I think social media and all types of all online media forms really give people a platform to reach out to readers that you might not normally be able to reach out to,” junior Kevin Mobley said. “I’ve found that you can reach out to people in another country which is a really cool thing to do.”

Social media and helpful applications have leveled out the playing field between established journalism institutions like CNN and smaller local or student run publications. They make it easier to gather information and present it in a polished fashion.

“We do a live daily show that is on the internet and to the whole school everyday. It’s eight minutes long and we have been a CNN affiliate since 1991,” Countryside High School UPC TV adviser Carl Zimmermann said. “We download footage from CNN from their raw feed, edit stories from that, rewrite stories and run those on our show as well.”

Today, apps overlap so seamlessly that pen never needs to touch paper for a story to become a finished product. For example, the app Recordium can be used to record interviews which can then be typed up anywhere with internet access onto Google Drive. The document can then be shared with collaborators who can all write the story together and communicate through a chat box, never needing to be in the same room.

Once the story is complete, Canva, a graphic design app, can be used to add an infographic with further information to make the story a more cohesive package. After that, apps like Thinglink can bring the photos that accompany the story to life by adding links to related information and videos.

As publications experiment with different forms of online media, they find the apps that work best for their staff and how it is organized.

“We also use social media a lot, like Twitter. With SoundCloud we sometimes embed audio clips into stories and that’s really cool,” Kevin said. “Storify is another one, where you can compile social media stuff.”

By adding social media platforms to what was previously just print journalism, publications cannot only garner a new following, but also gain a new level of respect and appreciation for their efforts to present news in a technologically advanced and professional manner.

“[Technology’s] kind of just increased our publication’s respectability and has made people take us a lot more seriously, which helps us out a lot,” junior Ally O’Rielly said.

A rising concern regarding this shift to the social media world, though, is the fact that there are few ways to know if the information provided on these platforms is credible.

“Well, [because of technology, journalism has] gone in very positive ways and very negative ways,” Zimmermann said. “The positive ways are [it] gives everybody an opportunity to participate. The negative of that is that not everybody is well-informed or educated to be a contributor.”

One false statement posted on a website like Twitter can lead to controversy, with misinformation that a large audience now deems to be the truth.

“Well, I think [technology’s] made a lot of people journalists who weren’t trying to be. I mean, especially the photography,” Fabrizio said. “People are capturing things as they’re happening and putting them out there, and I also think it’s given the media room to make more mistakes.”

Though media platforms have changed over the years, they do not cut away from the original purpose of journalism. Journalists are meant to, as stated by the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, “seek truth and report it.”

“I think the main thing that needs to be taught in school, in journalism, [is] not the technology,” Zimmermann said, “but the essence of the person and integrity, honesty and frankness…The essence of who you are and what you hold yourself accountable for is far more important than the technology.”

This story was written for the Team Onsite Production Competition at SIPA 2015. I helped to get the interviews and Anna Maria and Robin did the majority of writing but Maddie and I helped as well. This story, and design, won best overall for the competition. 

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