Home

This post will list out the interview with journalists I’ve done for a hypothesis (Journalists are following – not leading.  Social medias have changed and complicated the relationship between journalists and their audience.) 

The journalist interviews consists of 10-12 questions and the journalists that participated were:

1. Charles Artur – Guardian’s Technology Editor

2.  Drew Hillier – Editor of the financial website: ForexSpace.com

3.  John Thompson – Publisher and owner of Journalism.co.uk

4. Paul Bradshaw – Journalist, professional blogger and teaches journalism at a university level.

5.  Sarah Marshall – Technology editor of journalism.co.uk

John Thompson: Email Interview : On 24 Nov 2012, at 18:48

john2

1. To what extent do you believe social Medias have removed the barrier between journalists and the public?

Journalists are both more contactable and accountable to their readers. It’s also a lot easier for journalists to locate sources for stories.

2. Do you believe social networking has made your job harder? By having to maintain Facebook or Twitter pages and deleting unwanted comments while balancing it with your journalistic duties?

Comment spam is a pain, but it’s not really an issue with Twitter. Maintaining pages on third-party sites is always going to be a work overhead but it’s a question of prioritising what is worth spending time on. For us Facebook is not a big priority; perhaps it should be but there are only so many hours in a day.

3. Do you think journalists follow trends or set them online? Is it any different to print?

The good ones do both.

 

4. How much of an influence has social Medias had on your career? (From searching for information to spreading your work.)

Twitter has had a massive impact. It’s our primary platform for sourcing and disseminating stories, making contacts, and marketing our business. That’s not to say it always will be though, there’s always the “next big thing” online just around the corner.

 

5. To what degree do you interact with your online audience?

Probably not as much as we should, again it’s a question of resources. Unlike some, I don’t think there is a major problem with mostly broadcasting on social media channels as long as you try to be responsive if someone contacts you over them. And we strive to follow back relevant followers so they can direct message us if necessary.

 

6. How important do you believe it is for a first-time journalist to be involved with social networking in order to be successful?

 Well, I wouldn’t rule out becoming successful without social networking, but why make things harder for yourself?

7. Do you think control has shifted to the consumer more so then ever since the rise of social Medias? In the sense that not only can they have a greater say on a journalist’s work but also make their own content.

Not sure about “control” but yes it’s true consumers can create their own contact and journalists are more accountable than ever to their readers, which can only be a good thing. But there’s still a role for trusted gatekeepers to make sense of all this content.

8. Do you think using online dehumanises journalism?

Only if used badly. Should not be an excuse not to get out and meet people, as is true for email.

9. With all that social networking has to offer journalists, from increasing traffic to finding leads for a new story, do you think professional journalists are at the mercy of social networking in the sense that one is at a severe disadvantage journalistically if it is not used?

At the mercy? No. Disadvantaged if not using? Yes. But they are just new tools, not a substitute for traditional skills but a complement to them.

10. Do you think journalists are communicating less with their audience online or has the public become more demanding?

Less than when? Before the internet? I think pre online accountability there was an ivory tower arrogance about most journalism. You still see it today, but the smart journalists and publications are opening up. I guess readers expect instant updates so in that way they are more demanding. The public has probably  always been dissatisfied and sceptical about journalism (the Sun is known as a working-class paper but that demographic commonly refers to it as a ‘comic’), but are catching on quickly that they can now participate and feedback with a better chance of being listened to.

Paul Bradshaw:  5/12/2012 -Email Interview

pb.jpg_resized_300_

1. To what extent do you believe social medias have removed the barrier between journalists and the public?

Significantly. Journalists are trained to find regular sources of news – that mostly means formal organisations such as government bodies, unions, press officers, and a few community figures such as the local vicar, postmaster etc.

Social media makes it possible for them to find a much wider range of sources, on-demand. For example, those near the scene of an incident, or working in a particular industry at the coalface rather than at a management level, experts, and so on.

My own research on blogging suggests that this had an impact on what angles they took on stories and which ones they covered.

 

2. Do you believe social networking has made your job harder? By having to juggle journalistic duties with maintaining Facebook or Twitter pages and deleting unwanted comments or potential law suits.

It’s made the journalist’s job harder, yes. But your distinction between “journalistic duties” and “maintaining Faceook or Twitter pages” is false: those are journalistic duties too. If you want sources to find you, or you want your reporting to matter, then that’s crucial.

Personally I treat social media activity as a crucial part of newsgathering: it’s like hanging around the courts or arriving early for an event – you make yourself available to people, establish relationships and that ultimately makes your job easier in the long run.

What makes your job harder is ignoring social media and then wondering why you never get any decent contacts or stories. It’s because sources can’t find you, don’t trust you, or don’t think you care.

 

3. Do you think journalists follow trends or set them online  – is it any different to print in this aspect?

Both. This is very different to print. There have always been stories about ‘public reaction’, but normally that has required a demonstration, protest or petition. Now if an issue begins to build up speed online, that’s enough to trigger interest from the press. They have a keener insight into what people are bothered about and want to see reported.

4. How much of an influence has social Medias had on your career?

Massively, obviously. It’s my workplace; my contacts book; my CV; my archive.

 

5. In what way do you mainly interact with your online audience?

It varies depending on what I’m doing. But broadly I’m listening to what they’re talking about; I’m sharing things I think are interesting, and asking for inputs on things where I need help.

 

6. How important do you believe it is for a first-time journalist to be involved with social networking in order to be successful?

Essential. Every employer says they are looking for evidence of social media experience, and ultimately if you are not curious about your own industry then you’re not going to be a very curious journalist as a whole.

Also, your social media presence is part of your asset as a first-time journalist. Someone who has 5,000 followers, or a strong PageRank on their blog is going to have something extra over another person who is identically qualified and skilled, but doesn’t have that community behind them.

 

7. Do you think control has shifted more towards the consumer (audience) since the rise of social Medias? (In the sense that not only can they have a greater say on a journalist’s work but can also make their own content)

Yes.

 

8. Do you think using online dehumanizes journalism?

Why the hell should using a technology dehumanize journalism? Without any explanation of the background to that question, it’s very difficult to answer, but let me ask some questions back:

– Does using print (a technology) dehumanize journalism?

– Does using the telephone (a technology) dehumanize journalism?

– Does using the alphabet (a technology) dehumanize journalism?

Journalism is about communication between people – humans. Funnily enough, making tools is one of the things that defines us as human – very few animals do this.

PS: dehumanizing one person said on that point “To activists in Syria, Egypt and Burma Tor is their lifeline to the world The lack of internet to them is what’s dehumanizing”

9. Social networking has a lot to offer journalists, from increasing traffic to finding leads for a new story, do you think professional journalists are at the mercy of social networking in the sense that a journalist is at a severe disadvantage among other journalists if they do not use it?

Well, there are two questions here: are journalists “at the mercy” of social networking. No, of course they have a choice to use the tool, and social networking is not an agent that does anything. But they are answerable to an audience, and in that sense they should be listening to that audience.

In that sense, to answer the second question: they are at a disadvantage compared to other journalists if they are not listening to their audience, or if they are not following breaking news – just as they would be if they didn’t use the newswires.

 

10. Many people complain journalists cannot see from the public’s point of view. In your opinion do you think journalists are communicating less with their audience online or does it have more to do with the public become more demanding?

I think sometimes the public misunderstands that news does not mean what someone thinks is important: it is something new about something that is important, and important to a particular audience. Some audiences are better served than others, because they are more appealing to advertisers, proprietors, etc.

I don’t think journalists are communicating less with their audience online – I think they are learning how to communicate come.

And yes, I also think the public have become more demanding as they have gained access to those journalists directly, as well as access to the journalists’ sources of news: they can see when facts have been twisted, or ignored, or a story bluffed.

11. Do you have any opinion on the dissertation title: “Journalists are following – not leading.  Journalism is now at the mercy of public trends, acting based on what is happening on social networking sites.”?

I think like so many perspectives on the internet’s impact on journalism, it is very black and white. Journalism has changed in response to the possibilities that the internet has opened up – in both good ways and bad.

I’ve written quite a lot about this in ‘What’s your problem with the internet?’, which deals with the most common criticisms of the web.

I see no evidence of such an extreme argument – I don’t see editors ‘at the mercy’ of social media: I see reporters who use it as one ingredient among many sources of information in putting together the news agenda. In other words, editors are no more ‘at the mercy’ of social media than they were ‘at the mercy’ of press officers, or government, or the unions, or pressure groups. These are all important sources of news and wield varying degrees of influence over the news agenda – but individually none has the media under such control.

Sarah Marshall: Email Interview: 28/11/2012

sarahmsmall

 1. To what extent do you believe social Medias have removed the barrier between journalists and the public? 

To a great extent. Social media enables journalists to directly converse with the public / readers. 

 

2. Do you believe social networking has made your job harder? By having to maintain Facebook or Twitter pages and deleting unwanted comments while balancing it with your journalistic duties? 

No. Social media has been incredibly useful in terms of driving traffic, understanding the audience etc. Of course it can be hard to find time to be on every social media platform. My view is it is better to have a presence on all sites but concentrate on the ones that prove to be most beneficial.

 

3. Do you think journalists follow trends or set them online  – is it any different to print? 

It is easier to follow ‘trends’ now that journalists can do so on social media, especially Twitter

4. How much of an influence has social Medias had on your career? 

I like to think I was quite quick to see the advantages and embrace social media, particularly Twitter. It has not only helped me understand the audience, gather stories, gauge reactions, but has also led me to follow a digital journalism career path

5. In what way do you mainly interact with your online audience? 

Twitter. Often through asking questions and crowd sourcing

 

6. How important do you believe it is for a first-time journalist to be involved with social networking in order to be successful? 

It is essential that they have a presence on social media – or many editors won’t look at them – and also to understand how to use Twitter and Facebook to dig for stories.

7. Do you think control has shifted to the consumer (audience) since the rise of social Medias? (In the sense that not only can they have a greater say on a journalist’s work but can also make their own content) 

Yes. Social media has increased transparency. Journalists cannot get away with inaccuracies anymore – they are named and shamed!

 

8. Do you think using online dehumanizes journalism? 

No. I think it does the reverse. Readers can have direct relationships with journalists

9. Social networking has a lot to offer journalists, from increasing traffic to finding leads for a new story, do you think professional journalists are at the mercy of social networking in the sense that a journalist is at a severe disadvantage among

other journalists if they do not use it? 

Yes. Journalists who do not embrace social medias are at a disadvantage.

10. Many people complain journalists cannot see from the public’s point of view. In you opinion do you think journalists are communicating less with their audience online or has the public become more demanding?

Social media helps journalists to better understand the audience. We are communicating more and more, both in comments threads and on social media.

 

11. Do you have any opinion on the dissertation title: “Journalists are following – not leading.  Journalism is now at the mercy of public trends, acting based on what is happening on social networking sites.” 

Some journalists and publications are led by ‘trends’. But most know a good story and are not heavily influenced by such conversations. The great thing about online journalism is that it encourages original content as that generates more traffic. Therefore I’d argue that journalists are leading and the web is assisting in making journalism not only more transparent but driving originality.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Interviews with journalists (Research Project results)

  1. Pingback: Interview with Drew Hillier – social medias and their importance to journalists | Online/Offline Journalist

  2. Pingback: Journalism – a hybrid of writing and tech | Online/Offline Journalist

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s