What it Takes These Days: The New Age of Journalism

By Anna Thielen

The morning for Tim O’Rourke began with the editing of a story covering the San Francisco Giants. But that story was quickly put on the back burner as the executive producer of sfchronicle.com got wind of a shooting at YouTube headquarters. This curveball meant a sprint to the front lines. Decisive decisions needed to be made, and action needed be taken, quickly.

O’Rourke, gave Saint Mary’s Journalism class insight into the modern journalism industry,  Abrupt changes in daily scripts are not uncommon for journalists, especially in this day in age.

“News is a much more complicated enterprise now,” O’Rourke says. Modern news companies are now focused on urgency and engaging readers on various platforms. Various platforms include social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook which are becoming more and more common and accessible among subscribers. The new era of social media has provoked even more competition for urgency as news can now be uploaded from anywhere at anytime. For news such as the shooting at the YouTube headquarters, news outlets such as the San Fransisco Chronicle race to publish the first reports their consumer base sees.

“As soon as something happens we’re there,” O’Rourke says. Breaking news means reporters are expected to act quickly, gathering evidence and relaying it back to the studio where a social media posts are developed before the publication of the actual story. A post with one or two facts help the newspaper maintain a competitive edge in terms of urgency in publications, and buys more time for fact checking the full length article.

But for reporters, it is more than just rushing to the scene. The new role of journalists has become overarching wherein they are expected to be interviewers, reporters, videographers, writers, fact checkers, and photographers. “It’s a do-it-all-yourself” position O’Rourke explains.

The battle of the front headlines continues among journalists who are spurred on by the digital age and consumer demands. “It’s been and will be a tough fight,” O’Rourke says. “But I wouldn’t trade my job for anything.”


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