The Blog is Not (Necessarily) the Thing – The Journalist Is

I agree with Steve Rubel that “big media” needs to evolve if it hopes to survive – and that includes embracing the audience as both a contributor to news and as a consumer of news. But this doesn’t mean, as Steve suggests, that media companies need to go to an all-blog format.

Blogs are a means, not an end. They power social media and interaction, but blogs are only as powerful as the people who use them. Media companies can go “all blog,” but as Steve also says, people will expect professional journalists to speak with the same personable, open tone as citizen journalists.

This trend – the move from a journalism of pronouncement to a journalism of participation – will happen whether journalists write online in a blog format or in the paper that gets thrown in your bushes every morning. This is about the journalist as much as the journalism.

Today’s journalists are “getting it” (some are even eschewing e-mail and are using tags to help with their story research), but tomorrow’s journalists are already living the “what I want, where I want it and how I want it” lifestyle. They communicate plainly and openly via the web, mobile phones and other modern means. And unlike the “old days” where news was controlled by a top-down hierarchy of editors and gatekeepers, today’s journalism begins from the “bottom-up” – a mutual collaboration between the reporter and the audience in a boundless news cycle fed with conversation.

I agree with Steve when he says: “Social media is not an add-on,” but is a “way of life that evolves journalism from monologue to dialogue.” I would add another step to journalism’s evolution: Media institutions no longer matter; individual journalists do.

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