Journalism 2.0 12-step program

Journalism really is beyond 2.0, but this is more about journalism in a Web 2.0 world.

Howard Owens offers a basic, but very good 12 points on how to be a journalist in a user-generated content world:

  • Become a blogger. By this, I don‚Äôt necessarily mean ‚Äústart a blog,‚Äù but that is never a bad idea. More importantly, become an avid blog reader. Blogs should be a daily routine for every dedicated journalist. They should read every blog related to their beats. They should read blogs about their own interests and hobbies. They should read blogs about their profession. To get blogging is to get how things have changed.
  • Become a producer. Pick up a digital recorder, a point-and-shoot camera or a video camera and start producing content beyond text. Do this as part of your job, fine, or do it on your personal time. The goal is to understand DIY. Post stuff on YouTube, Flickr or any number of other UGC sites.
  • Participate. As you read blogs, leave comments. If your has comments on stories, read the comments and add your own. Become known as somebody who converses on the Internet.
  • Build a web site. It will greatly expand your mind about how the web works if you go a bit beyond just setting up an account on Blogger or WordPress. Learn a little HTML. Better yet, learn some PHP, Cold Fusion, JavaScript or other web development language. You should own your own domain, anyway.
  • Become web literate. You should know what Flash is, and how it differs from AJAX. You should know the meaning of things like HTML, RSS, XML, IP, HTTP and FTP. You should understand at least how people use applications and tools to build web sites. You should know the potential and the limitations of each.
  • Use RSS. You need an RSS reader and lots of RSS feeds to consume. This will help you better grok distributed media.
  • Shop online. Part of your goal is to become immersed in the digital lifestyle. You will learn stuff about the digital life if you shop on Amazon, Ebay and other ecommerce sites. As you do, think about how these sites work and why they‚Äôre set up as they are.
  • Buy mobile devices. Get a video iPod. Get a smart phone (an iPhone, Treo, Helio Ocean or Nokia N-series are all good places to start). Learn about distributed, take-it with-you-anywhere content. Buy a laptop and tap into some free wi-fi while you‚Äôre out and about. Learn what digital life is like when you‚Äôre not shackled to a desktop machine.
  • Become an avid consumer of digital content. Watch videos on YouTube. Download video and audio podcasts (take them with you on your iPod). Visit the best newspaper sites in the world and watch what they‚Äôre doing. Turn on your TV less and your computer more.
  • Be a learner. Technology and culture is changing fast. You can‚Äôt keep up unless you‚Äôre dedicated to learning. I love this quote from Eric Hoffer because it is so appropriate to what our industry is going through now: ‚ÄúIn a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves beautifully equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.‚Äù
  • Talk about what you‚Äôre learning with your co-workers. Be a change agent. Get other journalists excited about the new digital communication/media tools.
  • Finally, read Journalism 2.0 by Mark Briggs. You‚Äôll learn about the stuff covered above and how it is changing modern journalism. Brigg‚Äôs book is the best primer on the topic you will find.

As much as I agree with most of these points, doing some of these things are unfortunately still out of reach for a lot of reporters. How many of the corporations that own most of our newspapers, magazines and radio and TV stations have policies that allow personal blogs? How many of them allow for time to surf blogs or forums?

Unfortunately, most newsrooms (especially newspapers) are such sweatshops, there is no room to do anything but churn out copy. Journalism 2.0 tends to be a lofty ideal, rather than a reality, for most journalists. It’s sad.