Trying my hand at digital journalism
I’m trying to recall life before the Internet. Or cell phones. Even what my days were like before Miley Cyrus.There’s always Billy Ray and his “Achey Breaky Heart” videos to jog my memory.Visions of country-western mullets are dancing in my head.Now the Internet is the world’s source for entertainment, job searching, even meeting a soul mate.Just think, the man or woman of your dreams – and sometimes nightmares – is just one click away from discovery. Like becoming famous by way of reality TV, some things in life should not be that easy.Seven words: “A Shot of Love With Tila Tequila” To many old-school journalists’ dismay, the Internet is also the hot spot for news, especially of the late-breaking variety. Never mind Mariah Carey and word of her surprise nuptials was the top search on the World Wide Web this week. I heard there was a cyclone that killed thousands of people, but I guess interest was just not there.There’s a fine line between being newsworthy and being a celebrity.When I started in journalism – and I’m really going to age myself here – news delivery was pretty much limited to print, TV and radio mediums. Back in the early ’90s, we still had dark rooms to publish photos as opposed to digital camera technology. The Internet existed, but it was not so mainstream.Believe it or not, there was life before YouTube. And Internet porn.Pornography – now nearly a trillion-dollar industry thanks to the Internet – was not as readily available as it is online, today. According to the nonprofit Internet safety group Enough Is Enough, there are 4.2 million pornographic websites, 420 million pornographic web pages, and 68 million daily pornographic search engine requests. And those statistics are from 2006. Imagine what can happen in two years.Adult movie mega-star Jenna Jameson must be thanking the Internet gods right now.Logging on isn’t all that bad, though. From tax preparation to taking online courses, the Internet has its perks. And when a major news event takes place, the Internet is usually the first place people go to find out the scoop.For journalists to dispute that fact would be like denying the impact of global warming.Or not believing Jenna Jameson’s autobiography actually spent six weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list.Let’s face it, sex sells.The title of “journalist” – which once called for a bachelor’s degree or a portfolio of published clips featuring a writer’s bylines – is changing. The Internet has given birth to “citizen journalists” and “21st-century digital journalists” whose voices are being heard loud and clear on countless blogs and websites. Unfortunately because of our dynamic, need-to-know society access often trumps accuracy.Whoever said, “Don’t believe everything you read” must have been a clairvoyant.Or maybe just a cynic.News sources, including print, must take the lead to ensure information – whether it’s breaking news or human-interest stories – is delivered in a timely and accurate fashion. That has to feature the Internet, no matter how much old-school news editors fight it.Luckily my editor is more on the progressive side.With an average of a half-million page visits per month, the Post Independent is working to improve its Internet presence. That’s where I come in.No, this doesn’t involve the previously discussed topic of Jenna.As an offshoot of this column, I’m producing a new feature on http://www.postindependent.com using digital technology to talk with people around town. Video camera in hand, I’ll be checking out cool spots, asking random people a lot of burning questions and hopefully adding a fresh component to news delivery that’s interactive for the community.Let’s put the “our” back in journalism, people.My first duty is to devise a name. I’d love suggestions, but let’s keep it nice if at all possible. My parents won’t be so proud if I studied journalism in college and spent all that money so I could use my degree for “April Walks the Streets” or “April Does Glenwood.”Not that I don’t secretly think those are very funny titles, Kendra.Sure, sex might sell on the New York Times Best Seller list. I’m no clairvoyant, but I’d rather see accuracy on the Internet instead of so much jaw-dropping access.Now that would make my old-school editors proud.April E. Clark wishes all the mothers in the world a happy Mother’s Day, especially a really sweet, super-cool one who lives in Indiana named Dian. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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