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Reading Response #8 – MacMillan and Webb

Last Tuesday you heard from social media journalist and co-founder of Gun Violence Project, Jim MacMillan.  What’s your main take away from MacMillan’s talk as it relates to the future of journalism – perhaps even your career future?

This week you read about Amy Webb’s account of her 2006 digital diet where she stayed away from “traditional forms of media.”  Things have changed so much in just 7 years.  Put yourself on an imaginary diet where you turn off all your technology and have to rely on “traditional forms of media.”   What do you observe?  Are you informed?  Can you do it for a sustained period of time?

Don’t forget to post your responses by the Tuesday 10/29 @11:59p deadline.

Published inJournalismSocialmediaTechnologyTrends


  1. Kelsey J. Kondraski Kelsey J. Kondraski

    I thought that Jim MacMillan’s talk was very informative and it gave me an extreme reality check. It really scared me that he fears for the future of journalism. I also had the realization that I probably won’t be making too much money in the field and putting in a lot of work. He mentioned that passion is the number one quality a journalist needs to have. This was something else that made me a little uneasy. I know that I had a passion for journalism, but there are only certain things that I want to do. I don’t want to have to work my way up to doing what I want, but there is so much competition I’m going to have to take what I can get. I felt disheartened that he works such long hours and has little compensation to show for it. This really made me think whether or not I love journalism as much as that to pursue.
    I observed that when I turn off all technology, everything seemed really quiet. There was no noise and it was almost a calm feeling. However, would not realize how much I rely on technology to get information. I would be in the dark on so many issues. I do not receive the newspaper and would have to go out and buy it. At that point I feel like I wouldn’t take time out of my day to go pick up a newspaper and read it. I guess that’s the American attitude of wanting instant gratification. I could not do that for a long period of time. I don’t even think I could do it for a few hours.

  2. Olivia La Bianca Olivia La Bianca

    Based on the way both MacMillan and Webb discussed the way the news media is shifting and changing, I do not think that it would be possible to stay “up to date” on what is going on in the world using the imaginary no-technology diet suggested in this post.

    However, I would have to say that “up to date” is a very relative term. If by “up to date” you mean aware of news minutes after it happens from varied sources (as would be the case using technology), no, it would not be possible. However, if you mean it in the sense that at the end of the day you would have a pretty good grasp on what was going on in the world, I would say that it was possible.

    In fact, I would say that it was even more possible (for me, particularly), since I tend to accomplish more when I set out with a specific aim in mind. Knowing that news is always right at my fingertips alleviates any pressure to set aside time to read/watch/listen to it. Therefore, the chances of me actually sitting down to read an entire blog or online news article is slim.

    However, if I knew that at a specific time my preferred news channel would be giving me updates, I would make time to sit down and watch it (I am assuming television is considered “traditional media”). If I knew that every day a newspaper came out, I would be sure to go and buy that paper (probably the day after it came out so that I wouldn’t have to pay as much).

    Ultimately, I think that the world would continue to turn (and people would continue to be aware of the what, who, when, where, and why of its turning), if we only had “traditional” forms of media. It would be slower, but like Amy Webb said today: “If Facebook and Twitter disappeared, the world would not end”. At this point, I think new technology is still something of a commodity, an added bonus, per se. We could go on living without it – at least as of right now.

  3. Carter Wintsch Carter Wintsch

    To be completely honest, I really did not care for MacMillan’s “discussion” (I use that term loosely as I feel like most of his speaking was AT us, not with us). After he had finished listing his numerous awards and accolades and finally began talking about journalism, I felt that most of what he said were simply scare tactics. He basically told me that I might as well be going to school for sailing, golfing, or any other hobby.

    However, after hearing Webb speak and use more positive language, I was able to get a main takeaway from both speakers. Basically, professional journalism is still viable, but turn your sight away from traditional outlets. Therefore, I think my potential future career is still incredibly viable, as I think that music journalism will continue to flourish in the digital age.

    I occasionally find myself wondering what it would be like to turn off all of my technology. I really don’t think I would be informed, even if I went out of my way to do so. I certainly could not trust the radio, as the only news I would hear would be in short bursts or noisy bickering. I could get a newspaper, but that would necessitate time in my day that I don’t really have to spare. Could I do this for a day? No problem. A week? Yeah, probably. A month? Don’t push it.

  4. Lucas Rodgers Lucas Rodgers

    Jim MacMillan and Amy Webb both seem to agree that data journalism is the future of the industry. Additionally, they both implied that mobile journalism will continue to play an important role. Macmillan and Webb say that journalists need to evolve in different ways. My main take away from MacMillan’s presentation is that journalists need to become entrepreneurs and “spend as much time in business as in journalism.” He didn’t have a very optimistic view about the future of journalism though. I agree that independent reporting is very important to the legitimacy of a free press, but it’s a herculean task for independent journalists to find funding. I’ve never had much of an interest in business, and I think it would be difficult for me to come up with a business plan and find donors or investors. Ideally, I would like to work as a foreign correspondent some day, but the days of news organizations paying for their reporters to travel abroad to cover foreign issues are virtually over. If what MacMillan says is true, I might need to find another job that allows me to travel, and do journalism on the side. I could try to get a job at a travel publication or travel agency. I’ve also considered teaching English as a foreign language, which might give me an opportunity to do some reporting in my spare time. Webb had less of a focus on business and more of a focus on math and statistics. This is somewhat ironic for me because one of the main reasons I switched my major from game design to journalism is that I kind of hate math and coding. On the other hand, it’s useful that I’m already somewhat familiar with these fields, and I would be willing to revisit them if I could incorporate them into journalism in a meaningful way.
    I can sort of relate to Webb’s digital diet because I was without a cell phone for the past two weeks. I couldn’t make calls, text, surf the internet, check news websites or get on Facebook or Twitter while on the go. It definitely made things more difficult, especially trying to schedule interviews and coordinate with my partner for Philadelphia Neighborhoods because I had to rely on email, whenever I happened to be near a computer, as my primary means of communication. That being said, I still checked facebook every day and visited news websites to keep up with things. On the rare occasions that I do watch news on TV or read newspapers, it’s usually stories I’ve already seen online, so I would definitely receive news slower if I took a digital diet. I generally don’t enjoy watching traditional television news so I would probably rely on the Daily Show and the Colbert Report for my news. The only way I could see myself reading a newspaper every day is if I was commuting to and from Philadelphia by train, which I’m not at the moment. Otherwise, I think I’d be too cheap and too lazy to set aside time to buy a newspaper and read it each day. I think I would be able to take a digital diet for a sustained period of time, at least a month, maybe longer. One of the things I love about traveling is being able to shut myself off from the world I’m familiar with, and just ignoring whatever is going on back home. I would still be somewhat informed from observing occasional newspaper headlines or catching news clips on TV, but it would be a lot slower than usual. This might sound contradictory to the modus operandi of an international journalist, but I would happily refrain from using the new media for a while, if I didn’t need to.

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