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Digital first, Future First

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Steve Buttry is getting it right. With traditional newsprint steadily declining, he has taken the initiative and begun a campaign to actively cater to online medium foremost, utilizing various forms of social media.

Not long ago this was considered a radical and dangerous idea. It’s neither. It just makes sense. Buttry outlines a typical workflow for various reporters on his blog. This includes live-blogging, use of Twitter, and the posting of photos and videos (depending on the type of reporter).  This model encourages audience participation by allowing for immediate dialogue with the correspondent. Throughout the day, as the reporting is going on, readers can engage the writers and vice versa. Writers can ask questions of their audience and receive feedback in real time.

It’s not so uncommon anymore. During the trial of Bradley Manning, the soldier accused by the Federal Government of providing classified documents to Wikileaks, several blogs sprung up to write about the trial live. Even more recently, the trial of Casey Anthony- a woman acquitted of murdering her child – was widely live-tweeted and blogged about from inside the court room. It was an incredible thing to watch, and I found myself routinely checking these twitter feeds to keep abreast of the trial, as well as the reporter’s conversations with readers who wouldn’t be there.

Newspapers, too, covered these events…only a day later. By that time, the people who followed online were two, maybe three steps ahead of the newspaper readership. At that point the purchase of the paper was moot.

There is no question that these models are more effective at engaging an audience and drawing people in. The true question is one of finances, and whether this is viable fiscally. That particular question will probably not be resolved for some time. Right now, it doesn’t seem so. But there is no question that fading news organizations have no choice but to adopt or die.  The internet must be embraced.

Traditional newsroms should not have a problem doing this. It simply requires reporters to do things they should already be doing: walk softly and carry a big smartphone.



Written by kolchak

February 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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