Cameraman at USA Science and Engineering Festival.Photo: DeusXFlorida / Flickr Creative Commons
Journalism has gotten a bad rap lately, with print publications laying off reporters and going out of business. On the bright side, some tech-savvy scribes are embracing new tools and becoming one-person news bureaus.
GigaOm had a great article titled, What it's like to be a journalist now: working with 2,000 sources. Twitter gets the most limelight. It allows citizens to become reporters, and reporters to create personal wire services.
In a way, this is nothing new. Journalists have always cultivated sources. What's changed is the scale at which they can operate, and the speed. Not too long ago, media firms needed big bucks and bureaus located worldwide to get real-time information on the ground. Now a writer can follow the right bloggers on Twitter and get the same inside dope, often ahead of bigger organizations.
Despite the firehose of free data available from social media, traditional newspeople still serve a valuable function. They can act as trusted "curators" of content: fact-checking, analyzing, and commenting on the flood of information. Simply separating truth from rumor is hugely important. For example, witness the collapse in Apple stock when false gossip about CEO Steve Jobs' failing health spread like wildfire.
For aspiring correspondents looking for a role model, it would be hard to do better than NPR senior strategist Andy Carvin. His Twitter account @acarvin became a go-to source for journalists everywhere who covered the revolutions in the Middle East. For more on Carvin, check out this New York Times piece: Twitter feed evolves into a news wire about Egypt.
I'll admit a bias for stories like these. They are evidence of how technology can empower people. Instead of being a passive audience, we can all participate in the process of how unfolding events get told.