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Futures for (Online) Journalism

On 22 September, I'm going to be on a panel at a journalism conference to mark the 85th anniversary of journalism at the University of Queensland. The conference has undergone a number of changes over the past few month, and has now become a one-day symposium at the Brisbane Marriott Hotel, but I hope that the panel session will be useful, interesting, and well-attended nonetheless.

Today the organisers asked me to give them an overview of what I might have to say as my contribution to the panel - here's what I came up with:

New Challenges for (Online) Journalism

I'll focus on the arguments I've outlined in my book Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production: the present online environment is increasingly characterised by a focus on involving users as active producers of content, and online journalism still is only slowly coming to terms with such changes. While a number of high-profile online news organisations, such as BBC News Online, have begun to experiment with a greater involvement of their users in the news gathering and commentary process, it is in alternative news sources from the technology news site Slashdot to the influential Korean citizen journalism site OhmyNews that the most innovative approaches can be found.

Journalism education similarly still has to develop a response to the changing environment for journalists. With graduate destinations for journalists changing rapidly in the last few years, journalism education will need to be less concerned with preparing graduates for a diminishing amount of jobs in the mainstream journalism organisations, and more with focussing on the key skills of journalists - research, expression, and a facilitation of public discussion and deliberation, with a strong focus also on strong professional ethics and personal integrity. The position of journalism as a distinct profession may be under threat, but the importance of professional journalistic skills amongst journalism practitioners, wherever they may work, is now greater than ever.

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