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Is a modern journalist just a watcher of screens?

Roy Greenslade took a look at three converged, fully-digital newspaper newsrooms, which all sound terribly exciting. A couple of things stuck out for me:

"My visit came in the wake of the decision to create a seven-day
business division [at the Telegraph] under the leadership of Damian Reece. He gave me a
detailed hypothetical example of how a writer is expected to treat a
running story. Stage one: a quick text story on the website to break
the news. Stage two: updates as and when necessary on the site. Stage
three: if a video or audio clip seems appropriate then he/she will go
into the studio, located on the same floor. Stage four: as the day
progresses the writer gets both extra background and reaction, some of
it from contributions to the site. This will help in the writing of a
more analytical and contextual piece for the paper."

So at what point does the journalist actually get chance to leave the office and talk to people, face-to-face? Or don’t journalists do that anymore? If not, it would explain why so many stories feel like rehashes of other stories which add precisely no new information that’s not available elsewhere.

Cultivation of sources is the most vital thing that a journalist can do, long term, if they’re going to escape the quagmire of re-written statements, press releases, and quotes which are labeled "in a post on its web site…" When, in this 24/7 cycle of writing, rewriting, blogging and video-clipping, does a journalist actually get chance to do it? Or are they supposed to do it only via email?

"Chris Lloyd, the assistant managing editor, explains that staff find it helpful to move between the two, having one permanently logged on to the content management system, the other for email or a TV channel. Evidently, the Sydney Morning Herald is considering a two-screen approach too.

Meanwhile, all the staff know which are the most popular stories online from a projected wall screen which provides instantaneous feedback."

Well there’s the answer. It doesn’t matter if a journalist has decent sources – what matters in the number of screens he’s watching at the same time…


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