By invitation, accident or divine intervention, you have wandered to the blog of Salt Lake Tribune new media content editor Scott Sherman. I talk news. Mostly I’ll be talking about using digital tools to help tell stories.
So what’s with this platform agnostic business? Well, it goes like this: News is and always has been information passed from one person to another. For most of the history of humanity, this has been done by word of mouth, crude drawings, handwritten letters, town criers, smoke signals and the like. When the printing press came along, it gave people a new platform to share news. Same with telephone, radio, television, the Internet and more recently the mobile Internet. You’ll notice I don’t lump those together (more on that in another post).
With all the hand-wringing about how to shift newspapers from print to digital and the necessary complexities therein, many people get stuck on the wrong thing — the platform. Many print journalists have gotten so used to seeing news displayed in one way that they’ve forgotten what we really do.
We deliver news, not newspapers.
Our stock is in information. And the faster we shed the notion that putting ink to paper is the most prestigious and permanent way to deliver information, and the faster we fully embrace all of the platforms available, the more news we tell and the better off we are.
Being platform agnostic means choosing the best venue to tell the story. This digital shift isn’t fundamentally changing what we do. It’s just opening up an immense array of options for doing it.
I type these words on a certain Web site and we call them a blog. If I typed them into my paper’s content management system and pushed the publish button on sltrib.com we’d call them a column. If I said them aloud and recorded an mp3 we’d call it a podcast. If I added pictures it would be a photo slideshow. If I stood in front of a video camera and recited them it would be a standup. These are all platforms with which to share knowledge and ideas. Each has its pros and cons, but journalists should not be opposed to using any of them if it helps them do good journalism.
My goal with this blog is to explore how we share information in every platform. I am not an expert on these platforms. Some of them I’ve never used. And that’s the key. As I learn how to use them, I want to teach others in a way that everyone can understand — a how-to (and when and why) guide for journalists who want to tell their stories in the most effective way possible.