The world is becoming the newsroom as social media and the ability of non-journalists to transmit information in real-time are becoming part of the news mix, panelists told an audience Wednesday morning at Mediabistro’s UGCX conference in New York.
Whether it’s bloggers breaking stories or people taking pictures with their mobile phones and uploading them instantly to Twitpic, we’ve entered an era of collaborative journalism.
“What’s changed is that if the traditional media didn’t report, no one knew about it,” said Scott Karp, co-founder and CEO of Publish2, a company that provides tools for journalists to curate news from social media and the web.
Michael Meyers, co-founder and CTO of NowPublic, said the “difference is the participatory nature. In the traditional (news) model, it was all about the broadcast. In the new model, it’s a discussion.”
“Regular people like us have more power to contribute to the news than ever before,” said Rachel Sterne, CEO and editor-in-chief of Ground Report.
Of course, immediacy and an open floodgate of contributors can lead to problems. Panel moderator Rome Hartman, executive producer of BBC World News America, noted, “It’s a demonstrated fact that crowds often like crap. What often bubbles to the top is nonsense.” (Insert Balloon Boy reference here.)
To some extent, the panelists agreed, you have to give the people what they want. Nothing wrong with that (up to a point), but what about when real-time journalism leads to inaccuracies and mistakes (insert second Balloon Boy reference here)?
Karp replied that immediacy actually can be a virtue. “With things operating in real-time, the ability to correct (misinformation) is better,” he said.