In events like the London riots, traditional journalism simply can’t win
Oct 8, 2011
In London riots, traditional journalism loses to crowdjournalism, highlighting the need for media integration with social platforms.
At a social media seminar organized by the BBC in June, one of the participants stood up and asked the panel if the event was being streamed. With a negative answer, he said, “Yes it is. I'm filming on my iPhone and broadcasting. Doesn't that scare you?”. And the debate was sensational with the journalists admitting that a company will never have the necessary agility to cover “everything”.
Fastforward to early August. On Monday night, when the incidents in London were booming and growing, it was impossible to grasp the extent of the problem. I wondered if anyone had thought of making a map using Google Maps or something like that with the locations of the confrontations. The Guardian came to do this only the next day, on the magnificent Data Blog. But it was late. A London blogger had already taken the initiative, more than 24 hours before. And crowdjournalism had won another one.
On Tuesday morning, I opened the Folha de São Paulo and the poverty of the news about London shocked me. There wasn't a single news item that had been investigated after 7 o'clock on Monday night. The follow-ups made by journalists in an analytical tone were equally poor. And the newspaper reader who hadn't gone to bed with the chickens realized they were left with recycling paper and nothing more.
In practice, those who followed the correct Twitter accounts had the best coverage of the event through Biz Stone's microblog. Even newspapers like the Guardian, whose journalistic sense is infinitely greater than average, lost because in the non-located live event, there is no way a traditional coverage can catch everything. But on every street, every alley, there is someone able to transmit live what is happening.
Media outlets willing to deeply integrate with social media have an excellent opportunity to redesign themselves and become information curators - the new vocation of the journalist. Newspapers and magazines are in a losing war chasing after the news. Reflection and analysis still have space in these media, but in this case, it is useless to populate newsrooms with newly graduated boys, paying flattened salaries (which is the real stain for journalists). The hard news slipped from their hands and fell to those who have the agility to do it. Traditional press still has a chance to save itself if it doesn't go into denial. Otherwise, the media dinos are facing their ice age.