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The networking skill set: Old print’s real fear

December 22, 2008

This is quite possibly the best insight I’ve heard thus far on new media in journalism:

Even though blogging has been around for more than a decade, there is still an unease about blogging among some professional journalists, often encapsulated in the phrase, “blogging isn’t journalism.” This is a tired argument that mistakes form for content. (LINK)

It comes from Alfred Hermida on PBS MediaShift blog.

It’s a great set-up to the post that originally inspired this post, where Roy Greenslade writes, “The future of journalism lies in participation between trained, experienced “professional” journalists and citizens — bloggers, if you must — who will contribute what they can, when they can.”

I had an epiphany at some point between reading these two posts: Old print’s real fear about new media may just be more about what the job market demands and not so much what it will actually do to journalism.

In the old days, journalism was dominated by a particular skill set; this intangible called “journalistic judgment.” Essentially, if you were a trained journalist, you knew what was news because you were taught what was news.

In new media, readers decide what’s news, making “what’s news” completely arbitrary, more often than not, and devaluing journalistic judgment. In new media, the ability to network — and yes, often that means over this crazy Internet — is the dominant skill set and because many in old print don’t have that, they feel threatened.

The funny thing is, old print J’s have real good networking skills — they just need to learn to take those skills out of the Elks Club and put them to use on Twitter or Facebook.

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