Tuesday, April 12, 2011
When I was studying to become a journalist at the University of Maryland, I had to take more than 20 classes to learn what it took to become a professional reporter. Little did I know, but all I had to do was wait 15 years and I could become “a reporter” just by creating a new Facebook page. Don’t tell that to my father; he’s still paying for the University of Maryland. Web 2.0 and the explosion of social media outlets has not only changed the way that people communicate with their friends and family, but it’s also opened up the way they disseminate news to business colleagues, potential customers or communicate with Facebook Friends or Twitter followers (akin to a newspaper’s circulation) about what they had for dinner at Five Guys (and more importantly, if it was good or not). I know. There’s nothing more annoying than reading what a person you knew in high school ate for dinner that night, but when you think about it: 1) you read their status update; 2) formed an opinion on it; and 3) may in fact eat at that restaurant simply because your brain stored that information and remembered that someone you knew had a good experience there. While there are still many reputable and professional journalists in our State and the world at large, the simple fact is that today, everyone, including YOU, has the ability to become a “reporter” because the Internet has allowed websites like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and a variety of other social media outlets to become the newsstands of the 21st Century. Think about it: People are no longer hearing about world events like the earthquake and tsunami on the ABC Nightly News. They are reading about it from their friends’ first person accounts in Japan on Twitter or Facebook. Now people aren’t just learning about the hot new restaurant because they read a food review in a newspaper. They’re reading posts from their friends on Foursquare. Now people aren’t opening up the Sports Section first thing in the morning; they’re opening up Ubersocial on their smart phones and reading the Tweets of their favorite sports reporters. Whether, it’s Twitter or Facebook or the ABC Evening News or NJ.com or the Star Ledger print edition, people learn about the world around them from a variety of “news” sources. And believe it or not, sometimes it’s not a professional journalist who’s sharing that information with thousands of people. It’s YOU. Tony Bianchini is the Director of Public Affairs at Open Door Media, a public affairs and community relations firm based in Trenton, NJ. He can be reached at: (609) 396-6620 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Open Door Media at: www.opendoormedianj.com to learn more.