Four months ago I started the class Writing for Online Media with the idea that it was merely a requirement for the Associate’s in Digital Media Arts that I am pursuing. However, I have learned the true importance and power of online journalism in our current connected age. While I do not plan on pursuing journalism as a career, I can see the usefulness in being a citizen journalist.
Being able to report on and respond to current events, be they worldwide or local, is a powerful tool that needs to be exercised by all who are interested in affecting change in their communities. Learning about online journalism, provides the needed tools and standards for the individual journalist to be seen by the internet audience as bona fide. To be seen as someone whose words and thoughts should be taken as more than mere opinion or a rant.
Part of being seen as a bona fide journalist is portraying oneself as such. This comes down to branding and the marketing of that brand. In freelance journalism, the journalist is that brand. Having a consistent and professional presence on the internet builds leads to recognition of the journalist. Once the audience becomes familiar with a journalist, they will tend to return to him in the future. However, this will only happen if the reporting is done using good standards and practices of journalism.
The biggest step towards practicing good journalism is if the journalist has verified and provided the sources of his information. Other practices include covering all of the pertinent information; the who, what, where, when and why of the story being reported. Putting this all together using proper grammar and using the proper style of the news organization that the story is being reported through is also part of being a good journalist.
In journalism, an image, still or moving, depicting what is happening in the story is certainly very powerful. This is just as true in the internet age as it was in the heyday of print news. As a photographer, I certainly see myself continuing to look for stories that can be conveyed in images. Since taking the Writing for Online Media course, I have the tools to make those images even more meaningful and hopefully more impactful.
I also have gained a greater understanding of the power of social media and the role that it plays in our current society. Also, I have a gained an understanding of the roll that I might play in driving social media. As a citizen journalist following good practices and presenting a consistent and recognizable internet presence, I have the opportunity to provide the information that others need to make informed decisions. Overall, my goal is to continue to be both a content creator and an aggregator of stories affecting myself and my community.