Media Musings

We’ve witnessed the downsizing of newsrooms throughout the United States. How has life as a journalist changed at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and with the industry in general?

“The business has changed, but the way we approach journalism hasn’t changed much. We have more tools with social media, but it’s still all about telling a good story and telling it in accurately.”

“You can obviously see a stronger local aim with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and as a newspaper, we’ve gone back to focusing on our watchdog roots. It’s a logical step in an era when information is easily accessible. It becomes our job to keep track of our own back yard and in my case, as a features reporter, to help people navigate life here in the Milwaukee area.”

Is media that different than it was 10 years go, or is it just presented/produced differently?

“Yes, and no. The elements of what makes a good story are the same even if the means of telling them takes on new forms.”

“One difference is how stories can quickly take on lives of their own. Another is that now the consumer has a much greater role in deciding what is or is not a story.”

“Before the immediacy and widespread use of the Internet across all demographics, the news gatekeepers determined what was newsworthy. Now, the majority of readers can choose and do choose, a la carte, from a broader range of news distributors. And the news gatherers can have access to clear metrics on what connects with – or doesn’t connect with – their audience. This dynamic influences where resources are distributed.”

How has electronic and later, social media, changed the way you do your job?

“I used to write three or four columns a week. Now I often post three (and sometimes four) times a day. It used to be you’d write a column and have a day and a half to think about your next one. Now you have an hour-and-a-half.”

“I’m able to watch what my friends are talking about on Facebook, Twitter, etc., to look for story ideas, trends, mindsets, and such. But I really love being able to use social media to get my friends and contacts ideas and feedback for stories. Also, writers are generally active on social media — I think it comes from being alone all day — and thus Facebook and Twitter have become wonderful places to find and share great sources and resources for stories. I’ve helped my fellow writers who have posted for ideas for experts, and they’ve helped me, too.”

“I am happy to connect with sources and PR people who have clients that are in areas that I write about on LinkedIn, and I will sometimes post calls for sources on there, as well. It’s great for PR people to connect with writers they’ve worked with, because I am always disappointed when I email a PR person I like, and discover they’re no longer at the email address I have for them. With LinkedIn, I can always check and see where people are and find a way to contact them.”

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