The digital newsroom and open source ideals

28 Mar

As prevalent as the idea of citizen journalism has been throughout the past few years, combining this notion with the ideals of open source software projects has only recently been surfacing. Projects like OpenFile allows writers to interact with their readers to foster connections as opposed to running around trying to find a scoop. Allowing users to give feedback on ideas opens the barrier between the consumer reader and the engaged reader. This method ensures that there is research and news gathering done about issues and topics that the community finds both engaging and important; readers and writers working together to shape the news is one of the best ways to ensure well-rounded coverage of a local beat.

Publications have increasingly placed stock in their digital platforms than in their conventional print demographic. The online and mobile realm has proven to have the flexibility to both experiment with and change things with ease. Although things like bad headlines will be cemented in history with a simple click of CTRL + PRNT SCRN, infrastructure and features can be added and altered to best suit a publication’s audience. With current technology, the idea of stifling the news to be confined to a daily digest seems archaic compared to real-time updates. As Gigaom.com writer Mathew Ingram put it. “The news is now a process, not an artifact.”

The abbreviated article is looked upon less as shallow and lazy, but actually convenient more than ever before. Providing information has become just as important as storytelling (if not more). Although I have a vast appreciation for the wonderful ability of journalists to tell a story, the needs of the audience has been to get information and short updates on the move from their tablet or phone. It lends the question: Does the audience really know what it wants? The digital age has established that there is room to both satisfy all tastes and appeal to a niche audience. There’s room in cyberspace for all.

There are so many important things to consider when analyzing how this frontier is affecting journalistic publications. Both Sports Illustrated and 154-year-old The Atlantic have found great success in early adapting a digital platform. SI’s lack of a digital-specific department has eliminated a discrepancy in quality between the publication’s print and online reputation, which is truly progressive compared to other sources who struggle trying to maintain both effectively. It puts the onus on writers and editors to be savvy enough to manage content for both mediums, which is quickly becoming the norm. The Atlantic Wire also inspires its staff to remain on the ball despite the publication’s traditional monthly set-up. These sources have found their individual ways to overcome the cluttered idea of what the news cycle is now.

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