I attended a talk at the IIEA , on the digital challenge for news media. The talk was given by Jon Snow (presenter of Channel 4 News) and I was lucky enough to sit down with him for an interview...
The presentation at the IIEA essentially covered the democratisation of news that digital media has brought about, both in terms of production and consumption. The developments in technology and digital communication have led to a rise in citizen - or grassroots - journalism. Jon recalled how you once had to carry a wheelbarrow full of video equipment to film a report on scene. One person couldn't physically carry the camera. The mobile phone has changed that significantly as the consumer is now empowered to take photos or footage and distribute them freely online.
Indeed, Jon mentioned the fact that around 10% of the content on Channel 4 is taken directly from the web. Digital media has essentially opened up a 2-way communication system for what was once very much a one-way street. We sat down to watch that trusted reporter deliver the news on our TV screens and it was their word that prevailed. Now, the consumer is empowered to challenge and question, even produce their own take on news.
This was echoed poignantly in Jon Snow's speech, when he said : "For the first time in my working career, I'm beginning to get a sense of what people feel out there".
While this has empowered news reporters, it does come as a cost : there is no longer the luxury of time. Reporters are expected to be instantly reactive. If a story is breaking, a reporter has to relay this to the audience almost instantly. This is what we, as modern consumers, have come to expect. Jon said that he now works three times harder than he used to, but accepts this as a consequence of the immediacy of online media.
You can find Jon Snow on twitter @JonSnowBlog on his blog : snowblog and subscribe to his daily email : snowmail