Who needs journalists ? We’ve got Twitter.

News keeps hitting me in the face. It leaps out of my Twitter stream and I find myself on top of stories that even my husband doesn’t know about and he works at BBC news.  http://news.bbc.co.uk/

As journalism expert Jeff Jarvis says in his excellent Buzz Machine blog  http://www.buzzmachine.com/ in the age of Twitter, news  comes to us and we distribute it.

Twitter has cracked open the whole business of information exchange. People with something to say no longer need to whisper their news to journalists in town hall corridors and pubs, they can pass the information directly to us via the Twitter stream. News finds its audience without having to be mediated by ‘experts’ and everyone gets the chance to write an opinion piece.  And if you think that leaves us  knee-deep in dross then think of the re-tweet button as your editor, which allows quality to rise to the top.

I find it an attractive and highly democratic scenario. Citizen journalism is already advanced. Not only are there millions of blogs, but people are up-loading their own video and photos at a rate that is leaving the conventional broadcasters struggling to keep up.

The BBC has appointed a social media editor, they increasingly allow the audience to drive the content of radio shows, in Philadelphia there are plans to create a citizen journalism hub which will feed into the mainstream media. All this creativity suggests that people are doing in for themselves and the big boys are being left behind.  As one BBC guy put it, ‘If it has been published on a web platform, then in effect we have already been scooped.’

And yet there is still something of the journalist in me that wonders if the ‘experts’ might still be of use, to spot the story and make the links, to pluck the dirt covered gems from the muddy Twitter stream, and polish them up for our consumption.

Let me know what you think. Is the journalist surplus to requirements in the Twitter age ?

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6 responses to “Who needs journalists ? We’ve got Twitter.

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  2. The value add of inserting a journalist in between raw data and me is two-fold: the junk gets filtered out, and the journalists and their editors, who values their reputation, do some disinterested fact checking and cross interrogation. The speed of Twitter is impressive though. (e.g. The Miracle on the Hudson guy http://twitter.com/jkrums ).

    By the way, I love your Solipsus theme: I may steal it 🙂

    Also, if you like doing voice work, you might consider hooking your WordPress up to iTunes (e.g. via Feedburner) and making a podcast out of it.

  3. How many so-called “citizen journalists” are merely passing on information picked up from commercial news media? Seems to me that most are merely conduits for others work. At the same time, they denounce the hand that feeds them.
    Add to that the almost inevitable spin and/or commentary and you less reporting than you have just another opinion piece. Opinion pieces are fine, but not when they masquerade as reporting.

  4. God no, the journalist is not defunct. They’re not just mouthpieces for regurgitating information.

    Real stories have to be constructed from many sources, verified for truthfulness, and told more or less objectively. The most interesting stories require research, investigation, sleuthing (is that a word?).

    Journalists construct stories from sources – Twitter will be one of them. Youtube might be another. So maybe the process changes a little. But in the end, we’ve got to have someone to filter out the noise and give us clear, unbiased and most of all trustworthy signals.

    That’s what journalists (are supposed) to do – in my opinion.

    Great post.

  5. Pingback: Are You Sharing The Right Stuff? | Lucythorpe's Blog

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