Big Ideas, Delivered With Impact

Are We All Members of the Media Now?

In Writing on April 1, 2009 at 10:43 pm

By Tim Beyers

For John A. Byrne, Executive Editor of BusinessWeek and Editor-in-Chief of BusinessWeek.com, journalism is an act of communion. “For us, this is all part of how journalism is changing from a product handed down by reporters to an audience, to a process that embraces the user at every stage,” he wrote in guest-moderating last week’s edition of Editorchat.

So we’re all members of the media now? I doubt that Byrne would go that far but when readers are also sources, fact checkers and, at times, assignment editors, the line gets blurry. When do we know we’ve officially crossed it? Should we care?

Yes, I think we should. Byrne is absolutely right — reader engagement is crucial in an increasingly digital publishing business. Stories are no longer static. And, thanks to social media, you needn’t have a press pass to report.

Witness the story of Janis Krums, expertly chronicled here by writer Shel Israel for his forthcoming book, Twitterville. Krums, on the deck of a nearby ferry, snapped a now-famous photo of US Airways flight 1549 after it landed in the Hudson. Krums is an entrepreneur, not a reporter. He became one by happenstance and geekery. (An iPhone and a neat little software program called TwitPic, specifically.)

Krums’ story is inspiring, and dangerous. See, for as much as it illustrates the power of Twitter it also proves how easy it is for anyone to be a journalist. And if everyone’s a journalist, no one is, unless we redefine the job. Unless we realize that the value of a talented writer-editor team isn’t just to assemble facts but to create a narrative that relays facts and explains implications. To not just report but also analyze. That’s the sort of journalism I want more of, the sort that I want to be a part of.

Perhaps I’m naive. If you think so, or if you agree, tell me by joining in tonight’s edition of Editorchat on Twitter, 8:30-10:00 pm eastern. All editors, and writers who work with editors, are welcome. To participate, log into Twitter shortly before 8:30 pm and search for #editorchat. Messages posted with this “hashtag,” as it’s known, are aggregated into a conversation. Refresh the screen to see new messages.

You can also use the free TweetChat or TweetGrid services to follow the discussion. Enter your name and password and specify “#editorchat” as the room you wish to enter. To respond to a topic, post with “#editorchat” at the end of your message. (TweetChat and TweetGrid will do this for you, however.)

See you on Twitter.

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  1. […] You might say we’re returning to our roots. We’re taking time to remember why we started this thing. Here’s what we said back in March, when former BusinessWeek Executive Editor John A. Byrne joined us for a chat: […]

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