In the first panel session of the Global Editors Network summit in Hong Kong today, which looked at the impact of personalisation and “pro-sumption”, the overriding theme was for media companies to focus on a two-way conversation in order to meet the needs of their consumers.
Dan Gillmor, director of the Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism in the US, described the ecosystem as “more diverse”, adding that news outlets need to change their attitude “from knowing everything, or pretending to know everything, and imagining their role as more of a guide”.
He cited the Guardian’s open newslist project as an example of community engagement which makes “perfect sense”, but later added that the involvement of the audience in journalism would need to differ based on the specific case or project.
In some cases the audience can vote and make decisions and in other cases they will be part of the process in a different way and in some cases journalists will do the job they are trained to do and then get things from the audience. There are many ways to get the audience into this process. Not all are co-decisions but collaboration in a variety of ways.
He also called on editors to engage in a conversation with those working outside the journalism sphere, urging them to “be very willing to use ideas from people not involved in journalism”.
Fellow panel member Robert Amlung, head of digital strategy at ZDF TV in Germany, also spoke of the importance of community involvement and the development of the conversation in television specifically to a two-way process.
I do trust the audience … We’re not letting the audience decide then dictate. As journalists we have our position, our ethics, all this we bring to the conversation and this will enrich the conversation and I still think journalists have something to contribute. It’s two-way, we will get something back. We get more feedback and when we do it right it will enhance quality.
During his presentation he discussed the array of platforms now being used to access content, but added that while there are these new windows for content to be seen through, “the old world” and its communities must not be forgotten.
New possibilities arise but the old world remains strong. Classical traditional media is still very much used … even newspapers are quite profitable today. It would be nonsense to talk about the demise of other media.