As a result of the trends of news media, I’m guessing you’re reading this story on your laptop or smartphone. If I guessed correctly, I’m also assuming you found this story on Facebook or Twitter.
Was I correct both times? If so, pat yourself on the back. You’re a typical consumer of modern media.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve visited Fox 5 DC, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the American Press Institute and Transport Topics (a trade newspaper focused on the trucking industry). At each publication, discussion somehow always veers into the topic of social media outreach and digital content, and I’ve had it pounded into my memory that Twitter, Facebook and digital multimedia are major aspects of the future of journalism.
I’ve written about the topic of the evolution of journalism before, but through a theoretical framework that described modern journalistic practices as being off into the near future, rather than describing the changes happening at this very moment.
During last week’s luncheon for Eric Holder, journalists and media representatives surrounded me in the ballroom of the National Press Club. Voice recorders, notepads and smartphones sat on the tables and laps of almost every attendee. #NPClunch was used to talk about the event on social media, and it allowed me to witness some of the most frantic and quick live tweeting I’ve ever seen.
During such a formal event in the presence of the Attorney General, you’d be surprised by how often people would check and use their smartphones.
Being the rookie among seasoned professionals, I was juggling a notepad, Twitter and my camera. During the beginning of the speech, I wrote down quotes in my notepad, tweeting the interesting and important ones minutes after they were said (in the arena of Twitter, every second is vital). Halfway towards the end, I ditched the notepad and just focused on Twitter. Every so often, I’d get up to take a photo of Holder. By the end, I was exhausted, but exhilarated.
The reporter sitting next to me did the same, minus the camera and Twitter. Recording audio on both a digital voice recorder and iPhone (one for sound quality and the other for convenience), she was taking careful and quick notes on her notepad.
Photographers moved freely through the ballroom, taking their heavy gear everywhere they went, but somehow keeping quiet during the entire event. A line of videographers were stationed at the back, and C-SPAN cameras were ready, as they always are, at the start.
On Twitter, I was following BuzzFeed News Reporter Evan McMorris-Santoro. Sitting on the Board of Governors for the National Press Club, McMorris-Santoro sat with Holder and live tweeted the entire event from his table.
These scenes are indicative of the current, not future, journalistic practices.
At the Washington Post, one of the newest additions to their newsroom is a flashy production room for their online “Post TV” videos. At the Wall Street Journal, an entire segment of the newsroom is dedicated to videographers and video editors.
The positions of web editors, video producers and social media managers are popping up at newsrooms across the country. One of the social media editors for the Wall Street Journal had been hired a little over a year ago, and the position had never existed before that.
At Fox 5 DC, hashtags such as #GoodDayDC are used to promote the show and interact with members of the audience.
Transport Topics, despite having an older readership, is revamping their entire website this year to look newer and sleeker.
This isn’t to say that newsrooms are abandoning long-form features or analytical news articles for videos and Tweets. In fact, many media outlets such as The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed published their longer pieces on Eric Holder’s speech days after the event.
New mediums of communication are simply becoming easier to utilize, and journalists are not alone in the evolution of content creation. More and more people are learning about the world around them through social media, not only reading about it, but seeing and hearing events as they happen.
This is not the future or the evolution of journalism; this is what’s going on right now.