After an intense week at SXSWi, a very sick child, a death in the family and Spring Break where I needed to give my elementary school-aged son attention (he deserves that from time to time)… I’m finally back to blogging about journalism and technology. I’ve found a constantly growing interest in social networking from local businesses, organizations and media outlets across the country. I love talking about it. I love writing about it. I really do think we’re on the cusp of a new way of communicating and sharing.
What I also found from all of these talks and discussions is how everyone would love to have a picture of what the future looks like. I wish I had that answer. But I’ll give you a few ideas.
Forget everything you know now and watch it become more organic. The information you want will be at your fingertips online or on your cell phone (or whatever the future of a phone looks like). You get to choose how you get all information. Video on demand, feeds of information, photos, conversations. You pick when you want it and you learn about new developments on your own terms. I envision journalists to be the people who help you take all of those pieces of information and get more context behind them. If you are interested in a new business in town, you’ll hear and read what other people you trust are saying and you’ll go to the journalism source to give you the history of the building, the owners, the food and the restaurant’s safety history (if its been around long enough). We’ve all had to make a conscious choice to be informed or uninformed – It will be so much easier to be informed. But it will also be much easier to be informed on your own terms. You’ll have to reach out to make more sense of it all. You’ll have to make a choice to confirm the information you gather.
I talked to a reporter at the Baltimore Sun about how the Baltimore Police are using Twitter to announce shootings and other illegal activity in the city. The reporter told me how she wondered if people who read that Twitter feed will think they’re fully informed about the city’s activities. I told her that at first people will think they’re informed. (It’s novel! It’s transparent!) But after a while, they’ll want more. Hopefully they’ll look to the local newsrooms to help provide more background from those 140 character alerts. The trick: The newsrooms need to be paying attention to where people are gathering their own personal information. The newsrooms need to take those sources and provide a deeper understanding to they continue to be an important part of informing the public. That’s always been the goal of journalism – And I truly believe that will never go away.