Reflection on the future of journalism and public relations

As an aspiring journalist, the assigned readings about the future of journalism and public relations and their use of social media to further advance them were inspiring to me.  It was refreshing to read about journalism as a profession on the rise rather than the popular idea that journalism and newspapers are “dead”.  In the introduction to journalism NEXT, Briggs consistently reiterates the idea that journalism is not dead, but rather it is just getting started.  The reason for this is the constant innovations in technology along with the adaptations of the people utilizing these technological tools.  The technology itself is useless without journalists that know how to use them which is a point that was stressed in the chapter. “Journalism is about people, not technology,” Briggs wrote, indicating the importance of the collaboration of writers called citizen journalism.  A similar point is also stressed in chapter two of Putting the Public back into Public Relations.  “Public relations is about people, not about the tools.”  One of the major mediums for these tools being described here is Social Media.  Social media comprises the tools for regular people to create, share and publish content online.  Social media has become a powerhouse for the future of journalism and public relations.  The future of these fields rests on the shoulders of the following generations, beginning with college students.  The majority of college students are either heavily involved or, at the very least, familiar with some social media sites.  As a college student studying journalism, and who is deeply immersed in the social media world, I look at social media as a tool to find information, verify concepts and to connect and collaborate with other young journalists.  Reporting is no longer limited to conventional methods of sending an established reporter to the scene to do the necessary field work and eventually write a story.  The Economist article suggests that news emerges from an ecosystem in which journalists, sources, readers and viewers exchange information.  This is a direct result of social media since users began to explore sites such as Facebook and Twitter which subsequently provoked the rise of horizontal media.

While there are numerous reasons for young journalists such as myself to be optimistic about the future of the field, there are always reasons for concern to take into consideration as well.  The article by Seth Ashley, titled Beyond Gingras, brings up the idea that gatekeepers become non-existent because of the innovations in technology and increase in citizen journalism.  However Ashley also alludes to the fact that there are new gatekeepers in the form of digital giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple that provide the mediums for much of the content being contributed, thus enabling major news organizations to demonstrate their power through new technologies.  Instead of traditional editors in the newsroom that decide what gets published and what doesn’t, social media has taken over the role of the editor.  Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter allow users to determine what they want to read about by incorporating “Like” buttons and “following” capabilities.  These features allow users to unofficially subscribe to their specific and personalized interests. While these are a few examples of the concerns for the impact of social media on the future of journalism and public relations, I remain optimistic about these fields.

2 responses to “Reflection on the future of journalism and public relations

  1. I agree that it is refreshing to read material that inspires journalists and media professionals to reap the benefits of social media, rather than focusing on its potentials to cut profits and threaten the fundamentals of democracy. While these dangers are reasonable items of concern, it is far more productive to concentrate on how effective utilization of these devices can help journalists directly interact with the public it is ultimately trying to serve, essentially allowing reporters to refine their craft and make noticeable improvements to news dissemination. Because of the Internet and its widespread use, the Fourth Estate will eventually have to abandon its role as “gatekeeper. With the right mindset, however, all other elements of journalism should survive just fine.

  2. The Briggs and Solis & Breakenridge books definitely paint an optimistic picture, and it sounds as if you share their optimism. You mention the concerns raised about Google, Facebook, etc., being too powerful and becoming the new gatekeepers. Is the erosion of traditional gatekeeping by professional journalists a valid cause for concern, or is it simply outweighed by the many positives of social media?

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