Buenas Noticias – Hispanic Media Thriving

This makes for good news to read on a Monday–Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism released data that suggests that Hispanic media are not only surviving in the economic downturn, but in some instances, it is doing better than mainstream (read: Caucasian, English-language) media.

A closer look at the statistics finds a mix bag of positive as well as so-so statistics with regard to various Hispanic media. Some interesting facts to note include:

  • While both Hispanic daily and weekly newspapers saw a decline in circulation, the number of weekly newspapers actually grew by 18% to a total of 117 papers.
  • Univision television competed and in some instances outpaced the major English-language networks.
  • Univision announced plans to launch a 24-hour Spanish news network in 2012, competing with CNN en Español and other international Spanish language news networks.

Despite the good traditional news, some of Pew’s research indicates that the digital divide still exists between Hispanics and whites, with more whites accessing the Internet at home than Latinos.

Additionally, they found that language proficiency within the Hispanic community correlated to Internet use. For instance, their research indicated that Spanish-dominant Hispanics were significantly less likely to use the Internet or have a home Internet connection than English-dominant or bilingual Hispanics.

The digital divide may be part of the reason why Hispanic, and in particular Spanish-language, traditional media is able to flourish.

The Hispanic community still needs and relies on traditional media to know what’s going on domestically and abroad in Latin America. Even with the growing prevalence and affordability of Smart Phones and cell phone Internet access, there are still many free Spanish weekly news stands in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods.

Speaking from personal experience, I can attest to the quality of those newspapers and the role they serve in their communities. I cut my teeth as a news reporter working for Spanish and bilingual community weeklies in the Twin Cities back in the early 2000s.

These papers carried a real sense of purpose in the stories they covered and for the communities they informed.

While the mainstream newspapers only had so much news space to allocate to issues affecting the Hispanic community, the Spanish weekly papers have multiple pages to cover the same issues and more.

It’s fitting that the Hispanic media grows while the Hispanic community grows with it. The Census 2010 research indicates that Hispanics comprise 16% of the U.S. population, accounting for over half of the nation’s population growth over the last decade.

It’s also optimistic to read studies like these that demonstrate how print journalism is still alive and well in the Hispanic community to balance with the other “print is dead” stories.

But these are just my observations on the recent statistics. Anyone else have experience working in the Hispanic media? Any one have a favorite Spanish publication or telenovela to share?

August 31, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . media. 1 comment.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 8/22/11

Happy Friday, folks! If you live on the East Coast like I do, then you’ve already survived an earthquake and are bracing yourself for a hurricane. What a week, huh? With all this inclement weather, it should make for a boring weekend indoors. At least I have two Netflix on hand. So, if you’re holed up at home, surviving on bread, eggs, and milk, here are this week’s links and articles of interest to share–enjoy! And stay safe wherever you are :)

Some Good PR for Sharks (by @ginidietrich via @SpinSucks):

Ms. Dietrich and I had a cosmic connection a few weeks back when I posted the plea for good PR for sharks, especially around Shark Week. It turned out she had a draft post in her queue about some amazing (and real) statistics she heard on the radio about shark attacks, which she shared with her readers. PR stunt or not, the facts got her attention as a listener and shows the power of what “good” PR can do, even for the ocean’s most dangerous predator.

How to Survive a Website Redesign Project (by @cassdull):

Here is a post that I literally wanted to get up and bow down to when I read it (literally!)

I am in the midst of a website redesign for my school, and it’s no easy (or fast-moving) task at that. I thought I was alone in the world, until I read Ms. Dull’s post. Not only does she give me hope in my website redesign project and demonstrate empathy for those working in higher education, she also incorporates a kick-ass zombie flick tie-in! So, whether fighting off hoards of the undead or figuring out how to manage a website redesign committee, I think I’ll survive somehow.

Social Media & the Future of PR (by @TDefren):

I should add Todd Defren to my list of blogging heroes—he’s been writing consistently for seven years.

In fact, I attribute my knowledge of blogs back to about that same time when I came across a PR 2.0 Handbook that Mr. Defren’s agency Shift Communications put out. Although his post is more reflective, it is a good example of how powerful social media is when it comes to driving the conversation. It’s a good reminder to PR pro’s to consider the “guy on his iPhone” that Mr. Defren mentions, as communications become more social and less reliant on traditional means.

End of an Era: Romenesko to Partially Retire (via @Poytner):

Wow, two posts about my blogging heroes this week. Before I even knew what “aggregation” meant, I knew there was a man named Jim Romenesko who used to wake up at the crack of dawn to scan the news to share the news about the news.

Sounds weird, but I grew very fond of his blog as a means to know what was going on within the media industry. But, as Mr. Romenesko announced his partial retirement, I found I was not alone in my feelings of admiration for the work he established over the years. Steve Myers, who will share the site’s aggregation responsibility as Mr. Romenesko partially steps down, collected many of the responses to his announcement in Storify and shared them in this post.

What do you think? Please feel free to drop a comment and share your articles of interest as well.

August 26, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . blogging, journalism, public relations. 4 comments.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 8/15/11

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope your week is winding down nicely for you. I didn’t realize this until yesterday, but Monday was my seventh “dating anniversary” with my husband. I guess when you get hitched, you ditch that anniversary in favor of the wedding one. But it’s still fun to think back and remember how you were back when you first met your significant other, right? Okay, enough mushy stuff, let’s get to this week’s links and posts of interest to share–enjoy!

What an MLB Twitter Account Can Teach Schools (by mclobridge via @edsocialmedia):

I’m always looking for examples of social media to apply to the higher education setting, and I found one on Monday. This post by Michael Clobridge explains how schools can learn from the example of the Tampa Bay Rays. That particular baseball team has two Twitter accounts, one for promotional purposes (via @RaysBaseball) and one for community fostering (via @RaysRepublic).

As Mr. Clobridge points out, the @RaysRepublic account does a great job of fostering a community of fans around the baseball team, by offering an “inside look” into the team or simply having fun with no promotional tie. It’s an example of community-fostering folks in higher education should consider when developing a social media strategy for their schools.

An Editor’s POV on Reporters as PR Pros (by Steve Cody via RepMan Blog):

There’s an interesting debate brewing on the blogosphere about whether or not reporters make good public relations professionals. I’ve caught several pro and con posts. This one from Steve Cody at Peppercom (a PR agency) explains the personality differences among the newsroom staff and how that spills over into the PR world when they make the switch. Mr. Cody asked a former editor, who now works at Peppercom, to weigh in on this discussion, and his colleague had some interesting things to say. I think this is another one of those PR discussions that will continue to circulate, but it’s always refreshing to see a new take on it.

Learning How to Take on A-Lister Bloggers (by @neicolec):

The blogosphere is open to debate and differences of opinion; that’s the nature of the beast. However, Niecole Crepeau had to deal with the repercussions of her difference of opinion with “A-List” bloggers. It started with a previous post on Ms. Crepeau’s blog that was critical of the A-Listers, and so began a week of comment discussions on various blogs about who said what and who was or wasn’t right.

The end result is that Ms. Crepeau learned from her personal (or public?) experience and wrote this wonderfully honest post about it. I sincerely tip my hat to her for saying what she said and having the humility to admit there were misunderstandings and, on top of that, to share her experience with her readers.

Reading, Learning, and Sharing (by @journalistics):

Here’s a great example of how the opening of a blog can draw you in to read more.

Jeremy Porter starts with a compelling quote about personal development and proceeds to explain how the books we read and the people we meet can and do more for us if we apply a little more thinking to them. It makes perfect sense: how often do you read a good book about business development and never put any of those insights into action? Mr. Porter arrives to the conclusion that we gain knowledge from these two areas (books and people we know) yet we never quite put that knowledge to practical application. This post is a good head-scratcher and one that might make me think twice about the next book I read or person I meet.

Hope you found these interesting and maybe helpful. Do you have any links or articles to share as well? Anyone else have an anniversary this week?

August 19, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . blogging, public relations, social media. Leave a comment.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 7/25/11

Happy Friday all! And so another summer month draws to a close. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the hot weather, so I look at it as one month closer to the Fall. It looks like the heat and humidity are here to say in the Mid-Atlantic. I hope it’s not too unbearable wherever you are. If you need a break from the heat or outdoor chores, here are this week’s links and posts of interest to share–enjoy!

Social Media Fatigue and the Communications Challenge by @rustyspeidel via @marijean @kmueller62:

Here’s a great post with great intelligent comments-so intelligent I dared not add to them.

This post presents a good head scratcher for communications pro’s: what do you do when it appears that social media is not an appropriate outlet to market/promote your clients’/company’s products and services? Mr. Speidel makes a good case with his company’s specific products and knowledge of his audience, yet he constantly gets social media proposals. Does this mean communications pro’s are pushing so hard for social media that we forget the overlying need for appropriate strategy?

Again, I recommend you read the comments section because the commenters offer some good ideas as the alternative to this viewpoint.

Big Blogger-Little Blogger Conundrum by @Soulati:

Jayme Soulati, who has a fantastic blog that she keeps current and interesting, ponders on the issue of what’s like for the “big” bloggers and the “little” bloggers. For someone who is a little fish in a little pond, this post really resonated with me. I think most any blogger can relate to her sentiment, whether big or small. All sizes aside, Ms. Soulati’s thoughts are introspective and inviting at the same time, as many bloggers weighed in on her comments section, demonstrating how even a “little” blogger can create a big impression with her audience.

CNN News Anchor Gives Up (Video) via @JessicaKRoy via @stuffjournalistslike:

This isn’t so much a post as it is a clip from The Daily Show website that points out how CNN anchor Don Lemon appears to be frustrated with the fluff content he’s forced to spew on air. It’s hilarious-I love how keen Jon Stewart and his writing staff are with picking up little details like this from the media.

I often wondered how news anchors can keep a straight face when reading the teleprompter on some of the more ridiculous stories, and, maybe, Mr. Lemon is getting fed up with it as well. It makes me wonder, if someone put a question mark on his teleprompter, would he read it like Ron Burgundy? Stay classy, CNN!

Hitler Finds Out About Triberr (Video) from @Triberr via @DannyBrown:

(Word of warning-the video doesn’t contain explicatives in English, but there are a few in the subtitles.)

Since we’re on a video kick here, I had to include this one.  I thought all the “Hitler Finds Out That…” videos had been stripped from the internets and that I would have to go back to the “New Haircut” video meme for amusement. But then, Danny Brown shared a link to this video where Mein Furhrer discovers the new blogging community Triberr. I haven’t read as much as I should about Triberr, but at least they have a sense of humor to poke fun at social media egos and how their community has some bloggers in a tizzy.

Please feel free to share any articles or videos you found this week as well. Have a great weekend :)

July 29, 2011. Tags: , , , , . journalism, media, social media. 3 comments.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 7/4/11

Welcome back from the Fourth of July holiday! Hope your weekend was nice and relaxing. The only downside of a holiday weekend is getting back into the swing of things at the office or homestead. Good thing this was a short work week, and it’s only the beginning of July, so there’s more summer fun in store. If you have a few moments to spare as your week winds down, here are a few links and posts of interest to share–enjoy!

Burst Your Bubble for Clarity (by @Narciso17 via @Shonali):

Here is one of the first posts I read after a long weekend that provided an “a-ha” moment. It’s true–we communicators are usually secure in our little bubbles where our worlds make sense to us and those in close proximity to us.

Stepping back and seeking out clarity is the key to effective communications, and Narciso Tovar provides some pointers on how to burst our figurative bubbles in order to gain said clarity. Quite an eye-opening post and one that is simple yet applicable to many communications projects we may be working on.

Working with Student-generated Content (by @lizallen):

Here is a great example of a serial post that builds a topic from the ground up and ends with a few examples.

The first link here is actually the fifth post, but if you follow the link, you’ll get to Ms. Allen’s series. While her posts deal mostly with those working with students in higher education, there are also practical applications for those working in multi-departmental corporate social media.

How Not to Use Twitter Hashtags (by Erik Sass via @MediaPost):

Entenmann’s, those preserved delectable treats in a case at the end of the aisle, didn’t research the context of a trending hashtag that was connected to the Casey Anthony verdict. The inadvertently insensitive tweet was quickly rectified but hasn’t spared the company from ridicule in this post and from joining the pantheon of other companies that have Twitter mishaps.

The case points to the need to do a little research into the context of Twitter and social media. It’s not about jumping on a trending topic so much as it is finding one that is appropriate for your brand.

How Community and Rural Newspapers are Surviving (via @romenesko):

Print is not dead–long live the community press!

That’s what reports like this one from Stanford University make me want to shout from the mountain tops. It’s a lengthy read but includes some interesting facts and a neat interactive map of weekly newspapers. For folks in PR, it might mean looking to include the community press in your clients’ media lists.

And in case you still want to capture the holiday spirit, here is a favorite Pixies song to keep your Friday festive:

July 8, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . communications, journalism, social media. 2 comments.

Threats to Press Freedom Abroad

Media relations are an important component of public relations.

It’s common for PR folks to develop close working relationships with their media contacts, often based on trust and with respect for each other’s role in shaping the communications that reach our audiences.

But one thing the PR pro in the United States has never had to consider is the safety or livelihood of their reporter contacts.

The reality for reporters working in many countries outside of the United States is that journalism can be a dangerous profession.

Proof of this fact is 2011 Impunity Index report, which The Committee to Protect Journalists released yesterday. It identified the thirteen most dangerous countries for reporters based on the number of unsolved or non-prosecuted murders of journalists in comparison with their total population.

For any journalist, whether current or former like myself, it is a jarring reminder of how important it is to advocate for the free press.

And it is a reality check for both PR folks and journalists in the United States to thank our lucky stars we have the freedoms afforded to us within our own borders.

Some of the most striking facts from the report include:

  • Journalists are often targeted in conflict/war zones

While reporters are wounded or killed in the line of combat, the CPJ also found that they are often targeted in countries in active combat. Iraq topped the list of countries with the most unsolved journalist murders, along with other countries that are no strangers to conflict such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.

  • A remedy to impunity against journalist murders is elusive

The CPJ has actively met with the leadership in many of these countries but found that pervasive corruption within the law and judicial systems prevents many of them from adequately addressing these cases. Consider that all 92 cases of murdered journalists in Iraq over the past ten years have gone unsolved or non-prosecuted. It begs the question of how much do these governments value free expression if they turn a blind eye or keep their hands tied at so many injustices against the press?

  • Violence is often directed against political reporters

Thirty percent of the unsolved cases the CPJ found involved political reporters in the Impunity Index. In the United States, political reporting is such a part of our daily news, it’s incomprehensible how the same reporters in other countries live with targets on their backs. Imagine if someone took a hit out on Chris Matthews for something critical he said against a prominent senator?

  • Local reporters are killed at higher rates than international reporters

Just as the news is local, so is the violence permeated against journalists in their own countries. While I credit the CPJ and other organizations like Reporters Without Borders and Human Rights Watch with keeping a high-profile of crimes against the free press, very few of these local cases make it into the international media. Perhaps it’s because they are local to those countries or because there are so many. But these crimes have the potential to enact a chilling effect on free expression. Take for example, how El Diario, a newspaper in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico (#8 on the Index) curtailed their coverage after a photographer and crime reporter were both killed just two years apart from each other.

Thankfully, the CPJ’s Impunity Report is not all doom and gloom. Some of the countries on the list have made progress in their efforts to solve more cases of journalist murders.

I also understand the limitations of my observations. I am viewing it from my perspective of always being free to write and express my thoughts and opinions (so long as they do not incite danger against others). I do not mean to be naïve nor judgmental of these countries.

It would be interesting to hear what PR practitioners in some of these countries think about this report and how their colleagues in journalism are affected by violence and fear of retaliation.

What do you think? Should PR pro’s be concerned with a free press or violence directed against journalists?

June 2, 2011. Tags: , , , , . journalism. Leave a comment.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 5/16/11

So another work week draws to an end. Anybody attend a graduation commencement this past weekend or perhaps you were busy preparing for the end of the world this Saturday. Bummer, I had wanted to put some finishing touches on my bathroom. I guess I’ll see how this “Rapture” thing works out and if I get to sealing my bath tub or not. In the meantime, here are this week’s links and articles to share–enjoy!

The News is Social (by @joshdbrett):

I  have to give a special shout out to my colleague and classmate Josh Brett who graduated last week from Temple University with his graduate degree in communication management. Hooray Josh!

Working full time and going to school part time is no easy task, but he completed his capstone and remained active on Twitter and on his blog. This week’s post discussed a timely topic, that of the evolving tools for journalism and the speed that news travels as a result. It’s a tricky topic because there are postive and negative aspects to it, but no matter how you cut it, social media has become prominent in the evolving world of journalism.

Basic HTML Tips for PR Pros (by @Brianful and @daniel_c_baker via @worob):

To a non-techie, the words “HTML coding”  are frightening. But not really-there are some basics about HTML coding that even a PR professional can master and work into their client’s or company’s materials.

Brian Perry and Dan Baker provide a peek into the world of HTML coding with this approachable guest post on PR at Sunrise. They show in plain language and through examples how PR folks can pick up basic HTML skills. I like that they call these “baby steps to baby steps”-it makes me feel better for having to read their post about five times to get it!

How Journalists Are Getting Story Ideas (by @journalismnews):

It’s always good to read a few surveys here and there to stay abreast of the latest trends, especially as they relate to social media. The latest survey from Orelia PR came out this week, and it shows that more and more journalists are using social media outlets to source and verify stories.

What’s also interesting is that despite the increased use of social media to search and share news, journalists still look to PR agencies and press releases for news sources. I take that finding with a grain of salt, as a PR agency conducted this survey. But it shows that the relationship between journalists and PR folks persists regardless of the new communications tools available to both parties.

CDC Tells You How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse (by @CDCgov via @JeffreyYoung_HC):

It sounded like a hoax from The Onion-I caught on my Twitterfeed a tweet from Bloomberg health reporter Jeffrey Young that the CDC had posted about a zombie apocalypse survival guide on their Public Health Matters blog. It got so many visits that it crashed the site!

All kidding aside, this story is actually a great example of how even a government agency can use social media outlets to showcase some personality, humor, and also wrap up important messages, such as emergency preparedness. The CDC remained loyal to their core message of being ready in an emergency while also integrating popular culture to tell their story to their current and new readers. I would only add that their zombie survival guide was lacking in the weapons department if you ask me.

So, barring any end-of-the-world issues, this Saturday, do you have any links or articles of interest to share as well?

May 20, 2011. Tags: , , , , . journalism, media relations, social media. Leave a comment.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 5/2/11

Well, this certainly turned out to be an eventful week. I didn’t even hear the news at first Sunday night because we were watching a DVD. But when I got back from taking the dog out, my husband informed me that two news stories had broken–Osama bin Laden had been killed and John Cena was the new WWE Champion. You can venture to guess which of those dominated the mainstream news. In between the news coverage on perhaps the biggest story of the year, I found some interesting articles and posts to share–enjoy!

Shrinking Newsrooms and the Rise of PR (by @propublica):

It’s no surprise that, with the decline in print journalism, the itself newsroom is shrinking. I think I’ve read an article to that effect at least once a month. But ProPublica offers an interesting investigative piece on the implications of PR filling the news void while traditional journalism struggles. It’s not your typical “PR is bad” article, although it does lay on the unethical aspects a little bit.

Considering that many former journalists have made the switch to PR, it can’t be all that bad–perhaps in doing so, they also carry over their ethical journalistic standards that can enhance PR’s ethical duties as well.

Applying Journalism Writing to Content Development (by Derek Gordon via @MediaPost):

Here’s something positive–who says that a print journalism degree is going to waste? Despite the shrinking newsroom (see above) there is still considerable value a journalism degree can contribute to other professions.

For instance, bloggers and PR folks are always creating content. Why not take some advice from our journo brethren who are also working under deadlines and churning out quality content? Mr. Gordon offers a straightforward list of how content creators can learn from journalists, demonstrating how the fundamentals of news writing have applications to online and public relations content.

Alternatives to Press Releases (by @clairecelsi):

Media relations and the art of sending a press release should require a little research and effort in order to be effective. But PR folks are sometimes guilty of taking short cuts. Fear not next time you have a pitch coming up–Claire Celsi offers six alternatives to the traditional press release that can also build better media relations. Her post illustrates how it’s helpful to explore how the media prefer to receive communications and PR pitches. Who knows, you may end up with better coverage or at least a more effective media list.

Importance of Storytelling (by @3HatsComm via @Shonali):

Here is another great guest post on Shonali Burke’s Waxing Unlyrical blog that is both simple and compelling in its message.

Davina Brewer (@3HatsComm) brings up how brands and PR pros should not lose sight of storytelling, considering how social media makes it easier to convey. People will be more endeared to companies, brands, products, or services if the communications teams for those respective items create a compelling story to draw them in. Ms. Brewer’s post, just like her point on storytelling, cuts through the clutter and gets to the point in an engaging manner that resonates with her readers–spoken like a true storyteller!

Do you have any interesting stories or posts to share as well?

May 6, 2011. Tags: , , , , . journalism, public relations. 8 comments.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 4/25/11

Another month has come to a close and we’re that much closer to summertime. The Philadelphia-area was treated to a preview of summer with temperatures in the 80′s and the humidity to match a July day. Too early for me, in my opinion. But as the weekend cools down, and hopefully the weather in your area does too, check out these links and articles of interest from this week. Enjoy!

Resource for Latin American Journalism Perspectives (via @niemanlab):

I have always been interested in journalism issues as they relate to Latin America. It was great to learn about this resource from Neiman Labs of Harvard University. They tweeted about a magazine, available online as well as in print, from their colleagues at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.

A glance at the table of contents demonstrates how this is a great resource for timely perspectives on issues affecting Latin American journalists, from censorship to death threats. For anyone interested in international, or more specifically Latin American, journalism issues it’s worth bookmarking for future reading.

What You Think You Know About Journalism (by @jayrosen_nyu):

I’m on a bit of a journalism kick here, I know.

But couldn’t resist including this thoughtful perspective piece from Jay Rosen of New York University’s journalism school. From someone who has taught on the subject for more than two decades, it’s interesting to read on how journalism has changed. Mr. Rosen makes many good points for discussion, which are worth reviewing if you’re a journo-junkie like me. It challenges us to consider where the journalism profession is headed.

How PR Agencies are Killing Facebook (by @danielstein):

Here’s an example of one of those posts that sets off a wildfire of discussion! I admit, I saw this post, but didn’t really pay it much attention. It didn’t sound like the author was making a conclusive observation and rather was adding to the “who owns social media” discussion. 

Then, I see that Gini Dietrich responded to the post–and she was very animated, as were the 60+ comments her post generated. Then, @prtini pointed to another response that got my attention for using “unicorns” in the headline (SEO be damned!) by @davefleet. PR and communications folks were fired up this week and having an intelligent conversation. All this points to how great the social interweb is (in my ever-optimistic view) because not only is everyone entitled to publish their opinion, but everyone is also getting involved in the conversation.

Lamenting Broadcast News Coverage by Dan Rather (via @Jen_Bischoff):

Oh heck, what’s one more journalism post going to hurt ;)

I was a long-time CBS Evening News viewer when Rather was in the anchor seat, so I can clearly hear his soothing broadcast voice as I read his words. While he only laments this past week’s “silliness” in broadcast journalism coverage (i.e. opting for royal wedding fever over atrocities in Syria), I have been lamenting broadcast news for many years. So much so that I hardly even turn on my TV for news, save for the local fluffy AM show.

This goes back to the common discussion on my blog and in comments with others–the business of journalism wins out over content because a broadcast network will get more viewers out of a royal wedding than the reality of how much life sucks for people in other parts of the world.

Gosh, that ended way more seriously than I wanted to for this week’s edition. How about I share a clip of a serious breaking news broadcast? I was reminded of this incident of the famous Milwaukee Brewers “Sausage-gate” back a few years. I don’t know how these anchors kept a straight face–you try not to laugh!

April 29, 2011. Tags: , , , , . journalism, public relations. 5 comments.

What Makes a Journalist?

Lois Lane, Charles Foster Kane, Ted Baxter – what do these names have in common? They’re all fictional characters portraying journalists.

Sure, they may have been inflated caricatures in their time, but they brought to the mainstream a character that often hid in the background: the journalist.

Be it broadcast, print, or online, journalists are those individuals who take on the task of investigating, recording, and telling the stories that define our world. At least, that’s my romantic vision of who a journalist is.

You could say my heroes have always been journalists.

I grew up idolizing people like Dan Rather, Mike Wallace, Helen Thomas, and of course, David Halberstam.

They were the journalists who worked the old school, traditional journalism angle back when there was no Twitter, no Google, or heck, no cell phones with which to call their sources.

Can you imagine filing a story without email?

Fast forward a few decades, and today, the public has all the news it wants at its fingertips, with or without the journalists’ help.

Which brings me to the question that spurred this post: what makes a journalist in today’s world?

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.

It appears to me, as this is simply a commentary piece that the means with which we use to communicate are changing the roles of those who work in communications.

Social media is changing everybody’s game, from public relations, to marketing, to journalism.

And if by some cosmic force, as I was noodling on this post over the past few weeks, I learned (via the social Internet) that the Northwestern University Library is featuring an exhibit dedicated to exploring the different definitions of the journalist.

Makes me wish I could jump the next flight to the Windy City and check it out…

The exhibit’s curator is Northwestern’s Medill School professor Loren Ghiglione. And while I haven’t spoken directly to Mr. Ghiglione, I found a few points he made in the exhibit announcement (dare I say press release?) enlightening with regard to the issue of journalism I’ve been pondering lately.

I especially liked how Mr. Ghiglione simply states, “There’s never been any one definition of who a journalist is. (note: my emphasis added) It tends to be a whole cast of contradictory characters in one: communicator and critic of propaganda, reporter and rumormonger, educator and entertainer.”

Perhaps, like the concurrent PR definition discussion, the lack of a definition of a journalist leaves it open to interpretation and more inclusion as communications platforms evolve.

That can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on whom you ask.

While I like to think of my journalism heroes, I may have to come to terms with the reality that they merely fit the definition of a journalist in their time, given the communications available to them.

Now the whole world really is watching

With the communications available today, a journalist can be the print newspaper reporter, the broadcast editor, the blogger/citizen journalist, or the on-the-ground eyewitness with access to Twitter.

I could go on and on all day about this, and probably still not take a definite stance on what I think a journalist is. That’s just my moderate nature, I guess.

It’s kind of funny, if you consider I have an undergraduate degree in journalism, and I don’t think I ever really recall the definition as it was taught at that time.

No more belaboring on this issue on my part– what do you think? What do you think makes a journalist? Any favorite journalist characters or real-life heroes to share?

April 13, 2011. Tags: , , , . journalism. 3 comments.

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