It used to be report, write, edit. Repeat.
Now, it is curate, analysis, dialogue. Repeat.
Yesterday, in my newsroom, a graphic designer who grew up locally announced that a Facebook friend who worked at a downtown surf shop had just posted a picture on Facebook of a cop with a big gun kneeled down beside a car. Then, we heard helicopters. Our newspaper reporter grabbed his camera and headed down.
This story, more or less, broke on Facebook to a controlled audience. And, to be fair, it was not a complete story. Only after the journalist headed down did we find out that it had been a bank robbery, and after a few hours of calling the appropriate channels, the journalist was able to report that the supposed robber was caught.
Taking full advantage of content curation from citizens is not new. A site called Now Public is devoted to using content from non-professional journalists. But we are still discovering, and perfecting, ways to fully harness and best utilize the citizen’s need to report.
Some of us in the news industry consider it a special calling to report the news. What if it’s not? Maybe the desire to record is inherent in all people, and is expressed through scrapbooking, posting Facebook statuses and pulling out a cell phone camera on a plane that’s going down. It’s the same thing that draws us to time capsules.
But, be sure to finish the process. News analysis, which is different than commentary, is necessary. Not for us to understand the news, but frankly, just to be interested in the news. Trained journalists know that every story must answer the question, “Why does this matter to me?” The Facebook photo of the cop does not do that alone.
Dialogue extends analysis. News judgment was once defined as “What people are talking about.” Just because the audience is posting to Twitter rather than chatting on a street corner does not change anything, although it does allow a news publisher to again, harness the feedback and use it as a product.