The Future of Journalism

Technology is fundamentally changing journalism and will ‘kill off’ the traditional idea of a journalist, or so I’m told.

If you think about it the traditional model of journalism has a very few journalists talking to the many readers much like the Queen addressing the nation, but with more queens. This may be because the traditional methods of mass communication, papers and books, was very expensive, time consuming and required specialist skills. But also because a small elite had vested interests in controlling information to a greater or lesser extent.
However now anyone can communicate to potentially the whole world, more or less for free. Everyone is a journalist, albeit not necessarily a very good one.
First the internet democratised information flow, but now mobile phones are the main information sharing method for the new generation. The devices are small, portable and cheap, you can view content in private or share with friends very easily. Content can be shared via the phone network, the internet or directly via Bluetooth, so people can share localised information within their own clique, forming their own virtual information hub. I noticed this particularly when I was teaching engineering to 16-19 year olds, they shared videos, music and information on phones leaving the internet as a secondary source, TV and magazines hardly got a look in.
Images are often a large part of content, and newer innovations such as iPad and smart paper will be welcomed, but the handy small screen phone device still has the winning formula for most.

So thinking that in some way controlling the internet will control information flow is wrong.

I became a full time journalist only a few years ago, but I am very aware that the life of that role is limited, and maybe in less than ten years it may have completely eroded.

But even with the need for a ‘speaker’ removed, I think there is a natural human tendency to elect locally respected sources of knowledge. Every web forum has one member that everyone turns to for advice.

So in the future there may still be a role for a well informed and competent communicator, the trouble is from an practical point of view that there is no intrinsic method of financially rewarding this role; information is fairly free now and hopefully there is no going back. We are all less inclined to pay for magazine articles when we can read it for free on the web, and despite the huge amount of dross and misinformation that’s about there are still plenty of well informed bloggers who report events very well, some post excellent photos and videos too.

Currently there is still a place for magazines and tv stations, because of the uncertain and variable quality of free media we need somewhere apparently reliable to turn to. But as social networks establish, an reliable free sources are clearly identified, this need will transfer from the paid for media to the free.
We live in a time of great change, traditional roles and social models are being erased from the ground up, content providers such as magazines and tv companies must work with this to make new opportunities, to resist change is to invite disaster.
Me, I’m just trying to pay my bills, and if I want people to carry on paying for my words then I suppose I will have to find something more valuable to say.
Ralph Hosier
Engineer and writer.

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About Ralph Hosier

I love exploring everything the world has to offer, the fabulous beauty and intricacies of nature, the stunning majesty and grandeur of the universe, and the fascinating range of chocolates available from the local sweety shop. I have led a charmed life, sure there has been extremes, but the highs far outweigh the lows. I get paid for arsing about in very fast cars, I get to write about them and amazingly get paid for this too. My days are usually filled by making prototype and concept cars for car companies, a dream job. I have lived many of my dreams, worked all over the world, raced cars built by my own hand (and hardly ever crashed really badly), seen things and done stuff. But nothing compares to the love of Diana and my son Peter, beyond my greatest hopes. I am a chartered engineer, a member of the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), and of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) and I am a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers. A pleasing fact is that there are now more letters after my name than there are in it ;) R.Hosier B.Eng(Hons) C.Eng MIET MIMI MGoMW
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One Response to The Future of Journalism

  1. Philip Raby says:

    Interesting thoughts.

    I’m not sure that there are that many reliable free sources of information online. In time, I suspect people will get used to the idea of paying for good, reliable information and comment, just as they will today pay for magazines.

    Witness the success of The Times iPad subscription model, as possible proof that people do pay for good online comment.

    Cheers

    Phil Raby

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