In the networked world of new media, we have an abundance of opportunities and means to create content, and for this content to be seen by people across the world, allowing for unlimited ways to develop our own writing and abilities in the media.
During a Reddit AMA, I was lucky enough to have Alan Rusbridger, the Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian, answer two of my questions.
These AMA’s typify this new network of media interactions and opportunities that we all have access to. A whole range of people, ranging from normal people that have experience extraordinary things, to an array of celebrities, have participated in these online interviews of sorts, where anyone can ask questions, and the interviewee can choose what to answer. In an AMA, the middleman of a publicist or specific interviewer is removed, allowing fans to connect directly with their idols and find out what they really want to know.
I found Alan Rusbridger’s interview particularly interesting, with it focusing mainly on The Guardian’s role in the recent NSA leaks by Edward Snowden, and the implications of this, as well as more general insights into journalism.
My question to Rusbridger was a simple but important one for myself: “What advice would you have for a journalism student attempting to get into the industry at the moment?”. Journalism is a constantly developing and adapting industry, and I was interested to see what the editor of one of the most reputable and successful newspaper, both online and in print, would say to the masses of us studying the trade at the moment.
Due to the sheer luck of being online when the online interview was started, Alan Rusbridger answered my question:
Main thing is to publish. Blog, tweet, write, photograph, tweet, video, code, play around with data – or a combination of all of the above. a) it will keep your journalistic ‘muscle’ in practice. b) if you’re any good, you’ll get noticed.
And bear in mind you can do these things at other places than conventional news organisations. Many businesses, NGOs, arts organisations, public bodies, universities, etc are now publishers of extremely high quality stuff. Good places to practise your craft before moving on.
I found this to be an interesting, useful, and even inspiring answer, and one that also serves to justify, in a way, how this course is run.
I love his notion of a ‘journalistic muscle’, and how we must be constantly writing and ‘training’ this muscle in order to hone our writing skills. Maintaining something like a blog is a great way to do this, but as he states, there are numerous other ways to do this.
Rusbridger acknowledges the importance and prominence of social networking in journalism and the media, and doing something as seemingly mundane as tweeting can help to improve your writing skills, as well as get yourself noticed. Nearly every point that he covered as good ways to ‘publish’ are included in the Networked Media course, and I think the fact that we are expected to do three or more posts each work is a good way to force us to train this writing ‘muscle’.
Rusbridger also identifies that “if you’re any good, you’ll get noticed”, and this is a testament to this new networked society; it is just so easy to write something and for it to be seen by numerous, like-minded people, as well as potential employers.
Our Networked Media blogs aren’t just for the tutors and other people in the course, they can be viewed by anyone and everyone, and are an opportunity to bulk up our journalistic, or media, ‘muscle’.
My other question was more specific, and related to the recent series of leaks facilitated by journalists, and how the outcry and reactions from many areas of society affect the industry: “What, in your opinion, are the implications to journalism following the reactions to the Snowden leak and the recent result in the Manning case?”.
And his reply:
Mostly, it’s all bad. I don’t think most news organisations have remotely considered the threat to journalism potentially posed by the methods revealed in the Snowden documents. One basic question: how are we going to have secure communication with sources in future – by phone, by chat, by email, by anything except face to face contact? And, obviously, the use of the Espionage Act – a first world war panic measure passed in 1917 – to clamp down on whistleblowing is really dismaying. But the US still has the First Amendment. Wish we had one of those in the UK.
In his answer, Rusbridger identified how this networked world can be abused and become dangerous for journalism and the media. With the constant surveillance over many online activities, that was in part revealed by Snowden’s leak, it is becoming much harder for a journalist to keep a source secret. I found his comment that he wished the UK had a replica of America’s First Amendment striking and relevant for us, as we in Australia also don’t enjoy this constitutional right to free speech.
Just having the editor of The Guardian answer a nobody like me’s questions shows how brilliant and powerful this networked world is, and hopefully creating content for this blog will help to train my own ‘journalistic muscle’ that Alan Rusbridger identified.