E-journalism, hyperlocal news represent future of journalism

There are many futures for journalism. On Thursday, I got a chance to explore some of those with a great group of graduate students, professors and local journalists at Bagnani Hall At Traill College on the campus of Trent University in Peteroborugh.

First, I need to thank Chris Doody and Amanda Miller for their excellent coverage on the graduate website DON’T PANIC. Chris gave a good summary of the ideas we discussed. Amanda was given the task of tweeting the event for me and did a fabulous job. She recounts her trials and triumphs in a great blog.

E-journalism is an important step in the growth of journalism. Far too often, traditional journalists are bringing old practices and values on to the new platforms with little thought to the unique nature of our work on networks like the Internet. The struggle is to rethink the old values of inform, explain and interpret, where we are locked in tired hegemonic relationships with audiences. Instead, we want to educate, engage and empower those who consume our work in new and exciting formats, mediums and platforms. It is no longer good enough to simply gather information and deliver it to audiences; nor is it sufficient to provide our opinions on subjects. In fact, there is far too much opinion. What is needed is analysis, something that gets people thinking and provides them sufficient information to do it.

The election debate Tuesday night was an incredible step forward into the world of e-journalism. Between the Twitter, Facebook sites, live blogging, steaming audio and video and the instant coverage and analysis, journalists and the news industry demonstrated the potential to create a meaningful public sphere where people could hold a national discussion about our political future. There were plenty of bumps along the path, but it was certainly the right direction.

Journalism in Canada needs to experiment even more. The time is right to innovate and be creative. The Russell Williams trial in Belleville was a significant moment, as journalists used Twitter and other social media to provide instant coverage of events inside and outside the courtroom. The election debate is another milestone. Now, the question should be: What’s next?

Thanks to Professor Suzanne Bailey, of the English department at Trent, for the kind invitation. I’m not sure who had more fun.