Masters of Media

Joe Toppe Staff Writer

September 12, 2013

The progression of communication technology has transformed the manner in which the world conducts its business.

In fact, this technology has transformed the manner in which human beings connect with one another and it has reduced such longstanding fixtures of society as the postal service, the library and even the telephone call to a secondary means of communication.

The Internet and its many avenues of social media have washed away the obstacle of distance and drastically improved the efficiency of correspondence.

The penned letter and the telephone call have been replaced by the swift convenience of a text, the family visit has been replaced with a stroll through a loved one’s Facebook page, and time at the local library has been replaced by a Google search.

The whole of professional life has been influenced by this revolution as well and careers in journalism, public relations, sales and marketing are undergoing a social media facelift, and in regards to the office of journalist, perhaps no other trade has been altered so much.

Journalists must now prepare their stories for both the print and online version, mark them for print, place them online, and subsequently link them to their publication’s social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter so they can better engage the entire demographic of their readership.

But social media serves as more than a one-way street for news, it is a medium for consumers to interact with their providers.

According to Mediabistro, social networks enable reporters and newsrooms to interact directly with the people and the communities they cover while replacing online news sites as destinations for news and allowing audiences to shape and filter the news that reaches them.

Of course, the need for professionally trained journalists and an unbiased organization to employ them will remain, but the profession would be at a disadvantage to ignore its readership.

It is not uncommon to see a reporter in the stands of a ball game tweeting live updates, linking them to Facebook and corresponding with readers on live chat lines while paying close attention to the game until the final out is made or the game clock expires so that post-game interviews can be conducted, headlines written, and the final game story completed and published.

And let’s not forget the artwork; the story will need a quality image to accompany it on the front page, and quite often, the reporter writing the game story and managing the social media is also the photographer.

So go ahead and add an hour’s worth of image sifting and editing to the duties of covering one sporting event.

And did I mention the hundreds of professionals on the reporter’s beat?

Did I mention the hundreds of interviews conducted monthly with chiefs of police, state senators, mayors, corporate managers, and high school coaches?

To be a journalist, to be a good one that can avoid the menacing stare of editors and maintain the successful continuation of duties means that one must understand how to expedite a product, how to communicate in-person, online, and with text.

For the modern journalist, the news is their product, the readership is their client list, and the community is their market and every form of media from the Internet to the spoken word demands their control.