How does the digitalization of news affect traditional media?
Newspaper, television, radio, magazines – what do Louisville leaders from these fields have to say about the move towards digitalization of traditional media?
In a panel discussion led by Dr. Lara Needham, dean of the Bellarmine University School of Communication, Neil Budde, the executive editor of The Courier-Journal, Gabe Bullard, the news director of WFPL, Barry Fulmer, the news director of WDRB, and Carol Timmons, the editor of Business First Louisville, debated how the changing dynamics of news, readership and technology affected their individual fields, as well as how a merging of media platforms is becoming increasingly prevalent.
One of the main areas that has been affected by digitalization of media is in how consumers of news can now double as creators of news. Anyone with a keyboard and an opinion can produce content via a personal blog, comment sections of online news reports, and through the many available social media platforms. The panel was asked to weigh in on the pros and cons of this phenomenon.
“There will always be a need for objective reporters,” Timmons said. She continued about the differences in news consumers and reporters: “It’s easy for someone to go out and interview people, then come back and write it all down. But I don’t call that person a journalist, they are a secretary.”
Gabe Bullard of WFPL said that social media posts could be a great way to find sources. “If a topic is popular online locally, you automatically have dozens of sources or statements for a piece.”
Neil Budde’s view differed slightly, “A lot of what is online is noise. While there may be sources, journalists will have to continue to filter through that to pull out what is truthful and objective to be placed in an article.”
The panel then continued their discussion by delving into the topic of competition between traditional news sources, and sources that are exclusively online, like the popular Louisville-centric website Insider Louisville.
Both Budde and Bullard said that in their effort to digitalize, respectively, both The Courier-Journal and WFPL, that credibility and legacy move with the organization during the transition period.
Timmons spoke about “Project Pinstripe,” a completely digitalized version of Business First Louisville, and how they were offering online exclusive content that included more in-depth articles and specialty stories as a way to compete with completely digitalized media.
Fulmer summed up the way WDRB dealt with the competition in a single sentence.
“Content wins,” he said, going on to say that there will never be a time that that digitalization will be a substitute for quality material.
All these Louisville media makers agreed that while the impending digitalization of news will create various challenges, their commitment to excellence in journalism, reporting, and production of content will not be impacted by the changes in the presentation of media.
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