The Digital Journalism Manifesto

“Find something you’re passionate about. Make a career doing what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

OK- That may not be the exact quote, but we’ve all heard it before. Maybe it was said by your parents when you were growing up, begging you to stick it out in college because they wished they had. Maybe it was said by that odd-smelling philosophy professor in college who really loved what he did.

A journalism professor once said that to me. Of course, my passion changed more frequently than a Google Doodle. One day it was politics, another day it was sports, and the next it was craft beer and micro-breweries. One thing remained constant, though. Through all of the changes in my interests and passions, the one thing I wanted to do was create digital content, manage a website to showcase this content, and develop/execute a strategy to disseminate this content through cyber space. I am so fortunate to be able to do what I’m passionate about every day.

That’s one of the things I think is missing in journalism today – passion. There is far too much complacency and indifference. Readers want to know what is going on right now, not tomorrow morning. Our job as journalists is to get relevant and important information to the reader as accurately as we possibly can and as soon as we possibly can. When news breaks, journalists have the duty and privilege to act as the intermediary between the readers and the information they need. That’s an incredible responsibility.

Journalists today have such a powerful arsenal of digital tools to get this information out to the public instantly that it would make William Randolph Hearst’s head spin. Think about it. You can reach a reader by Tweet, Facebook post, email blast, or push notification from a smart phone application without he or she even looking for your news content in the first place. The words you write, the content you put together, can be shared from reader to reader so much that you could become internationally known overnight.

We live in the age of truly developing news stories, of instant instant-updates, of the 24-hour news cycle. Readers can see a story unfold from scanner chatter to it’s final destination – right before their eyes, on Twitter. A journalist can be the vessel through which readers are warned, informed, and educated – no matter where in the world his or her desk is in comparison to them.

It doesn’t matter the size of your staff or the size of your print circulation – you can still reach millions of people from all over the world with your content if it’s worth consuming. There are no borders, no limits in the digital space. There are no margins.

It’s amazing what we can do as journalists today, and it’s even more amazing that so many members of this prestigious profession have not embraced the digital benefits at their fingertips. These journalists, newspapermen, feel secure in what they know, trust in what is familiar. But isn’t it the job of the journalist to go out and see what other stories are out there to be told? To dig deeper, go farther, go further, and deliver the most complete story possible?

There’s a change in the media landscape coming. It’s already started, and is picking up speed with each click, each +1, each Like, and each Tweet. The digital revolution is upon us and to determine what side you belong on, ask yourself these questions:

Why wouldn’t I want to be the first to report this news on Twitter for my readers? Why wouldn’t I want to be the first one to share a photo of this event with my readers? Why wouldn’t I want to shoot first-hand video of this tragedy to show my readers another angle of this story? Why wouldn’t I want to be the most complete journalist I can be, with the tools given to me, to better my craft with each piece of content I produce?

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