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Vocus Users Conference w/ Jay Rosen: ‘Digital Journalism in Flux’

New York University journalism professor and media critic Jay Rosen spoke on the major shifts in digital journalism that have left the industry in a state of flux on Thursday afternoon at the Demand Success 2013 Vocus Conference.

Speaking to a more intimate crowd than the morning keynotes, Rosen gave a very professor-like speech accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation. In it, he outlined the four big shifts he believes are impacting the journalism industry today.

The first major shift he outlined is how the audience, or as Rosen put it, the people formerly known as the audience, are connected “horizontally” to one another just as much as they are connected “vertically” to mass media institutions. Meaning it is just as easy today for an audience to reach each other as it is for them to reach media outlets.

This led to his second point that media is now a two way relationship. Much like Arianna Huffington noted in her Thursday morning address, the media is not simply speaking to an audience and telling them how it is. The audience is interacting and responding to the media.

Rosen then transitioned to the relationship between sources, media and the audience. In his opinion, sources have more power today than ever before. Sources can bypass media outlets and journalists altogether to reach an audience. This is a result of the vast array of options for sources to spread their message. Those with an idea can do it through their own websites and social media, or they can pitch story ideas to news outlets and journalists. The audience also has a vast number of media outlets to get their news from.

The last major shift impacting the industry today is that the cost of delivery has fallen to zero. The old distribution systems in print are obsolete with news being predominantly published on the Internet.

After outlining the major shifts he believes to be changing the media industry, Rosen transitioned into his social media guidelines for journalists, marketers and even individuals using it for personal reasons.

With a tongue-in-cheek tone, Rosen outlined 10 rules for using social media starting simply with “Don’t be a jerk.” Other rules included:

  • To get more followers you need to share good stuff.
  • SEO Secret: Write a good post and put a headline on it that says what it’s about.
  • Use links to get the most of your 140 characters on Twitter.
  • The best way to manage your personal brand or to win a Twitter fight is to take confrontations on social media to email. Get it off of the public forum.
  • The key to online success and developing a strong personal brand is to get good at something and keep doing that.
  • The number one way to create value online is to save the user time.
  • The best way to become an “influencer” online is to be truthful. When you say it is good, that thing is actually good. You are not just being paid to say so.
  • On how to make a story go viral, you can’t. The user holds the power.

Rosen also emphasized how important it is for users to establish credibility on the Internet by finding out if the news or story is true first before posting it. “This is important advice for not only journalists, but everybody who is sharing information,” said Rosen. “In that sense, the skills and attitudes of professional journalists [have] been distributed to the population at large.”

After his social media tips, Rosen turned to the audience to field questions. He touched on topics such as the most effective ways to pitch journalists as well as how he has changed his teaching to encourage his journalism students to be a part of the conversation in the online world.

One of Rosen’s last points came in response to a question about the current hot-button issue of media bias. Rosen said that “the view from nowhere” perspective of being totally objective is increasingly distrusted with the ease of publication today. People who don’t claim a stake or a view are creating an opaque view of their work that hinders the audience’s ability to trust what they are saying, he continued.

Ultimately, Rosen said he thinks transparency from journalists, with regard to their personal beliefs and opinions will make it easier for people to trust them.

You can keep track of Rosen’s thoughts on the media at

–Brooks Welsh


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