To-do or not to-do, that is the future

Edward Vielmetti distinctly remembers attending the Shakespearean classic, Hamlet in Stratford, Canada when he was handed a promotional advertisement, “To-do or not to-do, that is the question.”  Little did he know that when he’d become the Lead Blogger for AnnArbor.com, this would be his strategy in how to deal with digital clutter.

Digital clutter can be described in several ways.  For news organizations, it’s clutter that fills up email inboxes, Twitter, Facebook, and the news organizations websites.  And journalists have to do their best to systematically work through it, to pick out what they need and what they don’t need; to-do or not to-do.

Photo of Edward Vielmetti, former Lead Blogger for AnnArbor.com. Photo courtesy of Concentrate.

“I don’t think digital clutter is a corporate issue, it’s a personal issue.  It has everything to do with how you as the reporter filter what you should do and what you shouldn’t do,” Vielmetti said.

Vielmetti suggests making that classic to-do list and balancing it with a not to-do list.

“To-do or not to-do, that’s the question.  If you need to de-clutter, having a list of accomplished goals and tasks will give that reminder at the end of the day what you did and didn’t do.  Either way, you must meet a deadline and I think you as the journalist must come up with a way to balance while accomplishing a deadline,” Vielmetti said.

Jennifer Eyer is the Director of Audience Engagement at AnnArbor.com. Photo courtesy from AnnArbor.com.

In the attempt to turn a profit in a competitive, online world, AnnArbor.com has proven itself in the branding arena.  By keeping its website clutter-free, it has given the reader the sense that their reporting can be trusted.

And with that, comes user interaction.  In an attempt to brand journalists, Jennifer Eyer, Director of Audience Engagement for AnnArbor.com encourages individual reporters to interact with consumers via Facebook, Twitter or the website.

I think that because Facebook has become such a fabric of the online world and the way we interact with people, users want that connection.  With the comments attached to the story, people are looking for a connection with the writer, and we definitely encourage the reporters to respond to people in the comments, don’t leave questions just hanging out in the air,” Eyer said.

With branding being an important part of the future of journalism, experts are hesitant to predict what will happen to print and digital journalism. Eyer hopes the print product never goes away and sees it holding strong for AnnArbor.com.

“I think that for a long time to come there’s going to be a place for both, I would hesitate to make a prediction for 20, 30, 40 years from now.  But for the time being, I think we’ve seen that the print product is holding strong at two days a week and our website traffic is growing exponentially so that is where the growth is but there is still is a certain segment interested in print,” Eyer said.

However, Mark Glaser, Executive Director of Media Shift – a blog dedicated to the digital media revolution is very optimistic for the future of journalism.  In a blog post entitled “10 reasons there’s a bright future for journalism” Glaser writes:

“One of the unsung advantages of the Internet is that it gives us access to content from newspapers, TV channels, blogs and podcasts from around the world. No longer are we limited to our local media for news of the world. Now we can go directly to that corner of the world to get a local angle from far away.”

And Glaser is right.

With the evolution of smart phones, i-Pads, and websites designed to track our every move.  There is no such thing as having to find our news, more or less it will come to us.

Websites such as Spot.us are trying to create brands while trying to stay in business.  Spot.us is a community funded reporting site.  The website will indicate how much the story needs to be covered and the users will fund it.  According to the about page, Spot.us reports its mission as “an open source project to pioneer ‘community powered reporting’.”

“Through Spot.us, the public can commission and participate with journalists to do reporting on important and perhaps overlooked topics. Contributions are tax deductible and we partner with news organizations to distribute content under appropriate licenses.”

And while there is skepticism about the future of the print product, online journalism still continues to find its way into people’s lives.  As long as we continue to find new mediums to push content to the users, the future of online journalism seems prominent.

“Through Facebook, Twitter, e-newsletter, we use those methods to push our content out so were not relying on people to come to us.  We’re getting in people inboxes, getting in their news feed on Facebook, and getting in their twitter feeds.” Eyer said.

No longer does the journalist need the traditional tools of the 20th century to get their story out.

This is the future.

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