As audience members, we can easily explain how technology has impacted the way we consume news. While many of us still like to sit down with a nice cup of coffee and a crisp newspaper, and methodically read the news, flip the pages, fold and re-fold the newspaper, and so on—I can close my eyes right now and picture my uncle Virgilio in Brazil doing exactly that—others, such as myself, not so much. I much rather prefer to look at my iPhone as my CNN, Reuters TV, or BuzzFeed app sends me news alerts, and then read the news as I walk to work, or between tasks, and move on. Whether you prefer traditional newspapers or news apps, it is undeniable that today we have a myriad of options to choose from when it comes to news access; all thanks to the technological advances of the past few decades or years, which brought us the Internet, electronic newsletters, blogs, podcasts, social media, mobile devices, mobile apps, feeds, and the list goes on. All these wonderful things made our news consumption a much easier process. Today, we can access news wherever we want, whenever we want, in whichever way we want; but what about the work of those who provide us with news? Well, also thanks to technology, their job now includes being wherever their audiences are, at the time they want to receive news, and able to offer news in whichever format the audience wants! They now must be omnipresent and multi-skilled.
If you do not believe me, take it from the experts. Kevin Bakhurst is the Group Director, Content and Media Policy at the UK-based communications regulator, Ofcom. Per Bakhurst, new technologies have pushed news to become available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on new platforms, immediate, mobile, and social, as major news organizations such as BBC are plunging into social networks and, not only leveraging their extraordinary potential as a source for news gathering, but also taking advantage of the opportunity to engage audiences that this kind of platform offers; all while distributing their news (Bakhurst, 2011). Now, think about how this affects the learning process of journalists. Multitasking! For years, I believed multitasking was a bad thing. I very well recall one of my former bosses complaining that “multitasking will not get any task done” whenever he saw me talking on the phone and filling out a form—yes, on the typewriter—at the same time. Fast-forward to today and I find out—ok, maybe not just today—that it is exactly multitasking what allows the modern day’s journalist to be multi-skilled and able to produce news that will reach us wherever, whenever, and however we want. In fact, Sue Wallace, Senior Lecturer, Programme Leader MA Multimedia Journalism at Bournemouth University, UK observed in her study about the complexities of convergence journalism that universities and colleges are increasingly offering journalism courses that include multi-skilling education (Wallace, n.d). So, thank you, Senior Lecturer Wallace; your study not only enhanced my knowledge of convergence journalism, it also helped me work on a sub-conscious misconception I had of multitasking and multi-skilling.
To learn more, check out this great video that Journify Mapper put together to show exactly how modern newsrooms have been adapted to the digital age:
Bakhurst, K. (2011). How has social media changed the way newsrooms work? Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2011/09/ibc_in_amsterdam.html
Wallace, S. (n.d). The complexities of convergence: Multiskilled journalists working in BBC regional multimedia newsrooms. International Communication Gazette, 75(1), 99-117.