Monday, March 23, 2009

Adapt, Adopt and Reach

The journalist's role has not changed.  He or she should gather information, process and present it in an honest and intriguing manner.  The journalist's responsibilities have changed - they have increased.  Getting the message out in as many different formats as possible including print, online, cell phone, ect..., has moved to the top of the list.  Who are we writing for and how do we reach them? 

The unprecedented growth in voter turnout among 18- to 29-year olds in 2008 was a response to identification.  Young voters identified with a candidate and a set of issues including change of the status quo, ethics and anger over the war and the economy.  These voters did not have to read the paper the previous day to know the most up to date information, because they were saturated with information from a variety of traditional and non-traditional sources.  Information was available on TV and from online sources.  Information was available directly from the candidate as e-mail and cell phone updates.  Information broke on cell phones first in some cases.

The newspaper is not the easiest or best media source for all users anymore, particularly the younger demographic, but that does not translate to a failure to understand the value of a free press to a free society.  Parker does not offer any data to make the case or compare past and present media use and understanding for the 18- to- 29 demographic.   I would guess from my own experience that today's youth are more aware of what is going on than in the past.  That they are more reachable than ever.  However, the journalist is now competing with many other players on these newly opened roads for access to the media user.  It is then the journalist's responsibility, as one of the few players on the road who was trained to be accurate, objective, ethical and concise to go through as many media sources so he or she can to reach the user.

That said, the journalists and everyone else inside and outside of newspapers should find a way to do whatever possible to preserve newspapers.  Endow newspaper?  Story for another time.

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