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Opinion: LIONizing My Media Empire

Photo by: Joel Pompea

Well, I did it…I’m back on Twitter.

Prior to the LION conference, I had recently been quite active in reviving my long-assumed dead account, and I feel lukewarm. My Facebook presence was solid, I felt. I would occasionally pen poetry, journalism and fiction on my WordPress to the occasional acclaim. I am connected.

I have aided in the creation of our pixilated zeitgeist. Hear me roar. But, the world now demands more.

I am in “Mobile Journalism” at Columbia College Chicago and with recent attendance at the LION conference, I remain humbled at the foot of the vast world that is the new media landscape.

Ever since starting college, I was taught how much the world of journalism, my major, was changing. The news was always ripe. What we once picked by hand, we now operate strange machines to gather. Twitter, Vyclone, SoundCloud, Cowbird, Instagram and the slew of blog sites are just a few tools in the journalist’s shed that can now be utilized to shape and learn about our planet.

At LION, I learned the shortcomings of certain social media algorithms and different types of visitors to a webpage. I have discovered the rising importance of the hyper-local beat and plenty of new terms I will struggle to define.  I am kicking myself for not doing a minor in advertising, and I am awed. I am in horror. I am depressed but optimistic, and I want to hear more.

We journalists must now be even more like the chameleon than we previously had to be. Our jobs are intimately attached to the technological advances for better and worse.

Sure, there is still a place for the hallowed pillars: on the ground reporting, a solid interview and a fine line, but how we go about presenting this information and absorbing it has shifted.  The news is living and breathing with every tweet. Sifting through this massive web of stories makes the job description for a journalist quite a bit more stressful.

But then again, we now have job positions dedicated exclusively to the management of social media. How I ignorantly imagine that position to be is some cute 20-something-year-old perched in front of a Macbook Pro, linking to some stories and making sassy and droll comebacks to Internet trolls.

This brave new world of 140 characters has me feeling strange.

The audience is now far more demanding and the statistics are readily available on what works and what doesn’t. This has altered our measurement system. Our value system is much clearer than it used to be, and often times we mistakenly laud the best journalism as the piece that got the most hits, retweets, likes, shares, whatever.

Our most important job, besides the creation of stories that deeply matter, is trolling through the murky Internet waters to shine a torch on the stories that best capture our flying forward zeitgeist. It may be what is currently blowing up in some part of the world or the necessary warmth of watching an especially curious cat freak out when it gets a plastic shopping bag handle caught on its head.

The workload just got a lot messier and heavier. The lines between subject and object are getting blurrier on the twitter feeds. It is time to have both a suit and tie and jeans and a t-shirt. We must be tigers of many stripes. The stuffy newsman is dead, and I shed a tear.

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