Defining Journalism in a 2.0 World

What happens when the means we use to communicate with each other changes the way in which we define our communications?

That’s a pretty heady question. But it’s one that has perplexed me as of late.

It started with intelligent and intriguing discussion of whether or not Twitter is journalism from Brian Solis.

The perspective of Twitter as journalism depends on how you define “journalism” – is it the act of reporting news or is it defined as a profession with ethical standards?

But Mr. Solis’ initial question is critical to this discussion: if Twitter is defined as journalism, is it therefore protected by shield law as protected speech?

I’ve read a few other posts that touch on this issue and raised a few flags on social media as protected speech. There are even recent instances where information was subpoenaed from Twitter.

I get a feeling of déjà-vu with this discussion. Remember when blogging was relatively new and all everyone talked about was “citizen journalism”— how anyone can publish content online and report news without credentials or formal training.

I admit, I have been glued to my Tweetdeck, waiting on bated breath, for the next tweet out of Egypt from @NickKristof or @acarvin about Libya. Both use Twitter as a channel to live-report what they were seeing and what others were seeing during the recent  dramatic turn of events in the Middle East.

But are their actions on Twitter considered journalism, as defined as a profession? Or, if defined as the act of reporting, what makes tweets from  journalists employed by news organizations any different from tweets from ordinary citizen witnesses in the streets of Libya?

Perhaps I’m too far removed from the study of journalism in recent years.

Blogs and Twitter didn’t exist back when I was in J-School. The only “social media” that was cool back then were chat rooms where sci-fi geeks traded fan fiction or discussed “The Matrix.” But I digress…

As social media becomes ingrained into our everyday lives, whether through sharing photos on your social network or tweeting an article of interest to your followers, we begin to redefine our notions of communication.

While I may not consider Twitter journalism based on my definition of the term, I do not deny that it is an important channel for journalists to utilize for live news reporting. But I don’t think it will replace the practice of contextualizing those reports into a cohesive, balanced story.

What do you think – is social media redefining our notions of communication with each other? What are your thoughts on Twitter as journalism?

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March 1, 2011. Tags: , , , . journalism, news media, social media.

One Comment

  1. What Makes a Journalist? « PR in Pink replied:

    [...] Not to rehash the entire discussion, but this concept moves along the same lines as the earlier discussion on how to define journalism in a 2.0 world. [...]

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