With all of the information coursing and readily available, Trevor Butterworth believes we need a slow-word movement in journalism --- that is, an effort to gather, reflect and distribute without technological regard.
Butterworth, the head of STATS.org, the academic affiliate examining how statistics are used within media, believes a cognitive crisis exists in the speed with which we're making assessments and settling issues online. The environment of mass consumption is the communication equivalent of empty calories.
"The idea of consuming less, but better, media--of a "slow word" or "slow media" movement--is a strategy journalism should adopt. It will be painful, as it involves thinking about media as something sustainable, local and (hardest of all for hard-bitten hacks) pleasurable."
Mashable has assembled a smart guide for journalists in the social media age, and it has four basic principles:
1. Get in the game by adding social media tools to the toolbelt.
2. Turn your site into a community.
3. Become a new new journalist, meaning adopt the platforms and techniques.
4. Keep looking forward.
They're extremely common sense-filled, and nothing unusual, but for newsrooms beginning to engage.
The market research firm, Trendspotting, has gathered an elite group of social media mavens to make predictions for the year ahead.
Many of the ideas seem in the works: business opening up, elite vehicles emerging, online communities normalizing, real-time reviewing, social gaming and currency surfacing, location-based services exploding.
But there are other, less obvious forecasts on advertising, privacy, and policy. John Battelle predicts a new interface for updates that bears nothing like microblogs.
Mike Schaffner isn't your typical social media user. He's in business, middle-aged, and an information technology manager. Which ought to mean he's used to commercialization, he's patient, and he's not necessarily looking for instant gratification online.
Which is why his post for Forbes.com
on the death of social media is striking. He's of the view the erosion of privacy, rise of commercialism and presence of spammers makes the experience more --- or less --- than what he wants.
Schaffner has stopped using Twitter, continues to worry about Facebook's use of his material, and believes the future will be in private, ad-free, non-spammed premium services.
A new Harris/Interactive poll (reported here on CNet)
suggests 80 per cent of Americans are online and are spending an average of 13 hours weekly surfing, excluding email.
The data suggests 184 million Americans are online. Their online use is up from most previous years, but off slightly from the October 2008 level preceding the U.S. election.
Some 14 per cent of users are online more than 24 hours weekly. The most active age group online: 30-39 years old, at 18 hours weekly.
And other new data indicates
the time spent online with newspaper sites dipped in November year-over-year, hardly surprising considering the presidential election was a year earlier.
He remains a believer in the ability of legacy media to transform, but it's possible to detect impatience in the writing of author, academic, journalist and adviser Jeff Jarvis.His latest post
prescribes a blizzard of initiatives. He says it's not too late, but that legacy media are at one minute to midnight. He suggests, among other things:
1. Stay in print, split functions of companies, outsource everything possible.
2. Invest in local networks of independent sites, add value with curation and sales.
3. Create a pure ad network.
4. Create a high-end product and charge a lot for it.
5. Create niche services and publications.
It's a typically insightful post with many more suggestions. Recommended reading.
Journalists in Canada have gained wider legal defence
following today's Supreme Court of Canada ruling that grants protection for what it deems "responsible communication."
The ruling means journalists will be immune from challenges of libel or slander if they demonstrate that the issue they are reporting on is of public importance and if they demonstrate they took measures to verify the information.
It means they no longer have to prove the absolute truth of allegations.
It is, naturally, a significant move in Canada and the strongest defence yet of journalistic rights under freedom of expression provisions in the Canadian charter.
In the Miami Herald, journalism professor Edward Wasserman decries
some of the publish-first, verify-later approach of digital media. While he's critical of many old-media values --- he is by no means a true believer in the good old days --- he worries too much is being discarded at once as the digital age arrives. He suggests the emerging culture is no less flawed than the one it seeks to replace.
"Online news has brought fresh concerns with such values as transparency and humility along with a vast new willingness to listen and allow others to speak," writes Wasserman, a professor in journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University.
"But in other respects, instead of righting the wrongs of the legacy news world, the 24/7 cycle risks deepening them and intensifying their potential to misinform and to harm. No, don't blame the technology; there's nothing about digital media that prohibits care, respectfulness, scrupulous handling of information, fairness-basic principles of journalistic professionalism.
"The damage isn't done by the new tools, but by the old villain of market calculation, the belief that haste pays, that racy and sensational disclosures drive traffic and now, if they're incorrect or one-sided, actually increase interactivity. Getting it first trumps getting it right."
In an essay for Technology Review
, NYU journalism professor and online-savvy Jay Rosen questions the definition of journalism, now that the social pattern of creation and consumption has been altered by the arrival of digital media.
Rosen notes that journalism has been conducted for the most part inside the media industry, but that the old production cycles --- the daily paper, the broadcast or the magazine --- have been disrupted by the always-on-deadline Internet.
"Journalists insist that their habitual practices are not artifacts of a technological era but the essence of good journalism. They shouldn't do that," he says. These days, "journalism is not the media."
In its annual forecast,
The Economist suggests worldwide advertising spending will rebound in the year ahead in most countries --- North America excepted. Even the presence of the 2010 Winter Olympics and the U.S. mid-term elections won't reverse the 2009 declines.
As for online growth, the forecast suggests harnessing social media will be key because conventional online display won't drive growth.
A possible key: The growth in social gaming and advertising placement in it.