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What's Next for Broadcast News?

Mary Rose Bacani Valenti

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Journalism is being committed everyday on Twitter… in 140 characters.
Mark Lukasiewicz made this strong statement in front of around 100 journalists and those interested in the future of broadcast journalism.  Mark is the vice president of NBC news Specials and Digital Media.  He is a Canadian with a successful journalism career in the United States.
His above statement struck me because I honestly didn’t think much of Twitter as a serious journalism tool.
But on Tuesday, November 16th, as I sat in the 10th row of the Innis Town Hall auditorium at the University of Toronto, glad to be sheltered from the pouring rain, I seriously pondered this statement.  And I was thankful I came to this talk sponsored by the Canadian Journalism Foundation.
Adapting to a Changing Landscape
For those of us who work in broadcast media and those of us who consume it, there is a changing landscape we are dealing with.  Our workflow, our platform, is changing, and if we are to stay relevant, we have to adapt.
Mark compared the workflow of former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw to the present anchor Brian Williams.  For about 20 years since the early 1980s, Tom’s job was being prepared and giving his all on the Nightly News program.  After that, he was done.  Today, Brian Williams does that plus he has to update and be involved in the world of digital media, which sometimes requires a 24/7 availability, whether it’s through tweets, facebook, posting of digital videos, etc.
Brian Williams lives in a time where, according to Lukasiewicz, anchors are turning into digital journalists.  Broadcast journalism, in order to stay relevant, is no longer locked to a timeslot or a channel.  People are now used to being able to access the information that they want at any time of the day via their social media tool.
But don’t despair, says Mark, because the heart of journalism is still intact.
The World is still looking for Storytellers
Lukasiewicz quotes Reuven Frank, NBC News president from the 1960s to the 1980s:
The highest power of television journalism is not in the transmission of information, but in the transmission of experience.
Wonderful and relieving for us who are storytellers, isn’t it?
Basically, Mark tries to answer the question, “Is there any future in this business?” by saying that we have to focus on telling real stories.  We have to be aware that we are in a world that is constantly evolving.  We have to be not only producers but consumers.  As the opening quote says, Twitter can also be a great journalistic tool, so find out what attracts people to these social media tools.
The Church calls us to be Modern Communicators
This talk is not limited to those in broadcast journalism.  All Catholics are called by God to be salt of the earth and light of the world.  We are called to be communicators of a profound message of hope and love for the society we live in today.  As Pope John Paul II said in his 2005 Apostolic Letter The Rapid Development:
The appreciation of media is not reserved only to those already adept in the field, but to the entire Church community... The current phenomenon of communications impels the Church towards a sort of pastoral and cultural revision, so as to deal adequately with the times in which we live.
Here are some interesting links related to the talk:

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