Traditional journalism and the new media
Mobile technologies and social media have been changing the mass media landscape. Beyond the traditional news sources, various platforms and models for information dissemination are evolving and opening new channels for online communication and publishing, such as citizen journalism, blogs, and online communities.
Only recently, Facebook introduced FB Techwire, a resource for journalists to access original digital content including breaking news, opinion pieces and multimedia information. It is a follow-through to the FB Newswire for newsrooms and journalists.
Undoubtedly, social media sites, such as Facebook, are among the largest drivers of traffic to websites, and digital-savvy organizations and individuals are leveraging on this. Globally, online sites such as Mashable and Buzzfeed—sometimes scoffed at by journalists—have news staff that can rival those of major news outlets, and are attracting veteran journalists.
Even in the Philippines where the majority of the population still use feature phones, the rate of acquisition of smartphones and the growth of mobile Internet usage have been phenomenal. These open up social media, blogs, and online content sites to more users.
I’m not a digital native; I belong to a generation straddling two worlds. As editor of our school paper, I learned the ropes the old-fashioned way: Get the facts, write well and accurately, and lay out the page using a ruler, scissors, glue and proofs from the printer. When I joined Smart, the Web was fairly young. Blogging was perceived as something for people with a lot of time on their hands, and social media sites such as MySpace, Multiply and Facebook were all alien to an older generation.
We in the Public Affairs group strive to generate newsworthy materials, while we embrace emerging digital technologies as channels for good public relations. We want to show how technology can be used to enable both traditional and online media communities.
As early as 2003, we initiated efforts to get schools connected, resulting in a program called journ.ph for student journalists. We advocated digital technologies for the newsroom, and at the same time invited journalists to talk about effective reporting and ethical writing.
Last October, we brought together mainstream, new and emerging media practitioners for the first New Media Meetup, held in Cebu. Along with our cohosts Sun Star Cebu and tech startup InnoPub New Media, we hoped to foster better understanding among the different groups and appreciation of the role of technology in media.
The participants exchanged expertise and views on the fast-unfolding developments in mass media in the digital age. Discussions ranged from good writing and ethics to trends and business models, but everyone agreed that a solid story will never be outdated.
Max Limpag, Sun.Star Cebu business editor and cofounder of Innopub, noted that many innovative projects and companies have come out of a recent spate of tech events such as meetups and hackathons, and he hoped that innovation energy could be channeled toward media.
Comfortable both in digital and traditional news media, Limpag has published 16 mobile apps in Google Play, Windows Phone and Apple App Store. He has also been giving mini-seminars to fellow staff members to help them upgrade their skills, and has trained college students and
Lapu-Lapu City government employees in online journalism, for free.
Gerald Yuvallos and wife Janice talked about how they set up Istorya.net in 2002, which is now one of the country’s strongest and most active Visayan online community. They attributed its success to people’s enthusiasm to share news and information wherever they may be.
Its members, they added, showed initiative for social good, especially during crises such as during the Bohol earthquake and Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”
Through Istorya.net, the couple learned new skills and discovered new business opportunities. Gerald, however, cautioned prospective online site owners against going into blogging or online publishing simply to make a profit.
“If you want to be part of an online community, you have to be there for the long haul,” he said.
Indeed, it takes more than creating a website and making regular posts to establish credibility as an online publisher or community manager. One has to have genuine interest in issues and solid engagement with the community.
Isolde D. Amante, Sun.Star Cebu editor in chief, shared tips on how to write stories that stand out. This struck a strong chord among the younger participants, and underscored the urgent need to break the cut-and-paste habit.
Libel stirred a lively discussion on handling online haters. The application of libel laws is clearer for traditional media, even with the passage of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (Republic Act No. 10175).
The best advice I heard is to ignore the trolls, but when the veracity of your information is questioned, stand your ground.
Among the other issues raised were turf wars among digital practitioners and journalists; PR practices; industry disclosure standards for paid content; and the dynamics of advertising and media. These issues can look scary, but we in the communications profession have to deal with them sooner than later.
Limpag said media practitioners need to be familiar with new technologies so they could deliver the news faster and more effectively. With the growing use of smartphones and tablets, news sites and news writing should be optimized for mobile.
A number of the online sites of Philippine newspapers are not yet made for mobile viewing. Some are not even indexed by search engines.
Worldwide, with the decline in print publications, naysayers conclude that print is dead. But while it may be true that revenues for traditional media are on the downtrend, in emerging countries like the Philippines where the majority of the population are still being connected to the Internet, traditional media remains the key to reaching different publics.
Still, with mobile Internet now more affordable, newspapers should seize the opportunity to reach a mobile-ready audience.
Some positive trends that both traditional and online media could consider are: the emergence of new business models and paywalls for more exclusive and in-depth online news; tie-ins for access to both print and online with interactive synergies; and availability of publications to e-readers and news aggregators.
More importantly, through continuous exchange of ideas, media groups can promote responsible use of media.
Nick Bautista Wilwayco is senior manager for corporate communications at Smart, building a career in the telco industry for close to 15 years.
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