Sunday, July 21, 2013

Journalists must get involved in technology

Sibongile Mpofu (Zimbabwe)

Digital revolution must be embraced totally if journalists and news media are to remain relevant to readers, said Richard Gingras, head of news and social products at Google.
Digital revolution presents the opportunities, particularly for Africa, to catapult into the future with new confidence. While governments have tried and continuously censor the free flow of information, digital revolution, particularly the mobile phone in Zimbabwe, would enable the continent connects with, and interacts with its publics.
Journalists need to be aware of how to take advantage of social media platforms to engage in journalism that is of relevance to their communities.
Social media provides the basis for investigative stories that journalists should do, but traditional media very often has not utilized this opportunity. Journalists, especially in Zimbabwe have not utilized the trusted crowd concept to investigate issues raised through social networks. Journalists still prefer to set the public agenda from its own point of view, as opposed to that of the public. This disconnects people in the process.
According to Gingras, investigative issues are not covered yet they always come from the fringes. Investigative journalism is triumphant where journalists have the ability to detect conversations amongst the crowd.
“Any news outlet that does not take advantage of the crowd is missing the story,” said Gingras.
He said Google Plus always analyze on a daily basis what is going on in social networks, and how best the organization can connect people on thee social platforms.
As the digital revolution sweeps across the globe, it provides a narrative of new readers, new platforms and new revenue streams for media organizations.
One African businessman, Trevor Ncube once noted that African journalists must not be naïve about the difficulties of bridging the gulf between a promising future of digital revolution and a difficult present.
He said new media holds the potential for Africa, only if media houses and journalists choose to be part of the revolution.
Journalism has shifted power to audience and Tom Rosenstiel puts it aptly: ‘Media has to adjust their behavior to the needs of citizens more, now than ever before.’
This certainly resonates with what Gingras said in his discussion with 2013 SUSI scholars at Google headquarters in Silicon Valley.
The future of news and media lies in embracing the digital revolution and media organizations now have to re align their business models in the world of social media.

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