It has been a funny old week, as the lazy, journalistic cliché goes. This time last week, I was telling myself for the third afternoon in a row that I’d do my slides for news:rewired tomorrow, and now they’ve spent the best part of a day on the front page of SlideShare.
I think that the good folks at journalism.co.uk are to be congratulated for the conference. It’s the first journalism shindig I’ve been to where it felt like the majority of the people who are actively engaged in the front line of journalism exploration in the digital age where there, and willing to share and robustly debate their views and experiences. In short, it felt like a conference where you could learn something, and that beats the same old corporate faces giving the same old corporate presentations we see too often.
And it has most decidedly sparked some discussion. Most of it was very useful, as the compilation of links and discussion makes clear, and I’ll almost certainly blog more about that in the coming days. But some of it really revealed the fractures in this industry, as it desperately tries to reshape itself.
I have a theory, which Andy alluded to in his blog post about the event (uh, Andy – might want to get the subs to check my surname there, by the way… 😉 ). Most journalists, if they loved their industry (or their job, which is not quite the same thing) have to go through the standard five stages of grief, as they deal with the changes that are happening to our profession. Many are still in denial (and Kevin made a good job of eviscerating their dismissal of all things digital), but some of the people who were there were very clearly still in the throes of anger.
In some ways, I think the citizen journalist versus “real” journalist debate that kicked off in the crowdsourcing session, moderated by The Telegraph‘s Kate Day, is pretty much a non-debate, as Sarah explains:
Personally, I find this an outdated debate but I fear it will go round-and-round until the idea that people can have a ‘virtual life’ and a ‘real’ one as two separate things is finally, belatedly put to rest.
That would be the move to “acceptance”, of course.
I fear that we, in the mainstream media (does B2B really count as mainstream?), are somewhat to blame for this continuing conflict, though, because we have had a tendency to appropriate the name “citizen journalist” for user-generated content on our sites, rather than use it in the context it was intended – people using the tools the web provides to publish their own acts of journalism to the internet. As Martin identifies, part of the heat of the debate was in people confusing publishers using low cost (low value?) content from the audience with people choosing to publish for themselves.
I think Jon hits the nail right on the head, when he suggests that we forget the labels, and get on with thinking about how the tools allow us to do good journalism. And I mean good journalism, not the sort of shoddy page-filling nonsense torn apart here.