Three little pigs and the death of the New York Times

Multi-platform storytelling and open journalism - how newspapers are embracing the new age of communication...

By: Clare Howdle,   2 minutes

The digital revolution. We’re constantly being told we are in it but I haven’t ever really felt a sense of it until today.

Yesterday, 29 February 2012 Twitter turned six. ‘i’ ran a six page, top 100 tweeters feature to show the impact that social media is having on how we digest news, engage with stories and connect with each other. I saved it.

I got home and watched a programme I’d recorded from a couple of nights before. Deadline: The New York Times was an insightful documentary looking at how this traditional media giant is adapting to try and cope with the new news world, a world where readers go online to find out what’s happening, rather than paying two bucks for a broadsheet. A world where twitter breaks and makes news and where the president taking a trip to Buffalo no longer warrants a troupe of news reporters in tow (such are the necessary cutbacks) to write a frontpage story, but instead the lack of news reporters in tow and instead the reliance on twitter to share what happened with Barack in Buffalo makes the front page.

The documentary tells the tale of David Carr, the Times’ new media correspondent as he unpacks the digital revolution real time, investgating why CNN are teaming up with Vice to reach viewers, reporting on the collapse of the Tribune and the preceding and continuing topple of America’s physical papers, and combatting the criticisms of agregrate online news sources, and online publishers who think the NY Times is an aged, dying beast with little life left in it. Through the programme we also meet Brian Stelter, the 26 year old wunderkid who started out blogging and ended up on the new media desk on 5th Avenue, three screens, two phones and a headpiece wiring him in to the latest every day – flabbergasted that some New York Times journalists still don’t have twitter accounts – and at the forefront of the move to find a place for professional journalism in today’s world where anyone with internet connection can be a reporter. For anyone interested in how the media world is changing it is an absolute must see.

And then today I log on, start working and an email pings into my inbox. It’s from the Guardian sharing their first ever TV advert for open journalism with me. A retelling of the three little pigs story to demonstrate what open journalism is and how it works. The parallels with the core themes of Deadline can’t be missed. Nor the synergies with aspects of transmedia storytelling that I have been learning about since my epiphany a few weeks ago.

Open journalism. The decline of the NY Times. The continuing rise of twitter. Narratives and invitations to engage across multiple platforms. The world suddenly feels like it is turning at a rate of knots and I am only just beginning to see the speed at which things are moving. Hold on to your hats….


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