How to define and use online journalism has been creating debate, and headaches, for many journalists. But, the panel that met in the Hotel Brufani to discuss the role of online journalism seemed optimistic about journalism’s relationship with the online world.
“We are in a period of transition,” said Giuseppe Smorto, co-editor of the Italian daily La Republica online, “It is a fruitful time for journalism.” Although, in order to take advantage of what the internet can offer journalism, Eric Ulken, ex-editor of interactive technology at The Los Angeles Times, reminded us that the old business model of journalism needs to change. “The established media institutions are in trouble, and a new business model has not yet emerged,” said Ulken.
The new business model of journalism, the panel agreed, needed to be focused on listening to the reader and “measuring engagement”, as Ulken described it. Journalists are no longer just the producers of information but they are part of the conversation.
While the panel looked to the future of journalism, Marco Pratellesi, editor of the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera online, reminded us that we need to preserve the old style of doing journalism: being out on the street talking to people. “We need to go back to the pre-internet journalism to produce journalism for post-internet,” said Marco, “Journalists need to be away from their desks and doing investigative journalism.”
Towards the end of the debate, the conversation turned to how journalists can be trained for the new unknown realm that journalism is entering. “How can young journalists be trained properly when most journalism professors are at the end of the career and not used to using twitter and facebook?” asked a young journalist. “Everyone needs to keep learning,” suggested Eric Ulken, and he told a story of a journalism professor from North Carolina who did a student internship at the LA Times to gain an up to date experience of news rooms today in the online age. “Suggest that to your old professors!” said Ulken. There was a ripple of laugher through the audience. But, Ulken reminded us all that in todays fast changing media environment, we all need to keep learning.