SF Chronicle’s Tim O’Rourke Talks Digital at SMC

img_8983By Kiana Le Yap

Covering the SF Giants Opening Day, a then-active shooting at YouTube HQ, and setting aside 90 minutes to chat with a class of aspiring journalists, San Francisco Chronicle’s Tim O’Rourke is one master multitasker.

“I’ve never had a dull day on the job, ever,” said O’Rourke. Working his way up through a smorgasbord of jobs in the journalism circuit over 15 years, O’Rourke is still faced with new challenges and learning opportunities in the field.

As someone who worked almost every job in the newsroom, from copy editor to food critic, O’Rourke stresses the value of being a multi-talented journalist. His openness to sharpening his own reporting skills and learning new ones is credited to his time at Saint Mary’s College.

“From Saint Mary’s, I understood the importance of learning, not just for the grades, but for your own self-realization in what you want to become,” said O’Rourke. For him, that was turning his passion into profit — and being able to afford rent in SF.

When it comes to “feeding the beast” that is social media, O’Rourke and his colleagues at the Chronicle have had to adapt to dynamic shifts in how consumers engage with their news. During his talk, O’Rourke pulled up his Twitter feed — a true “beast” of social media. In a multi-column arrangement, he receives constant updates from multiple media accounts, Chronicle colleagues, and political pages.

He explained how the nature of journalism has dramatically changed with more consumers using sites like Twitter to get their news. Journalistic writing has adapted accordingly since news consumers nowadays want quick, straightforward facts.

In an era of “fake news,” opinions and objective reporting have become increasingly muddled. To combat “fake news” at the Chronicle, O’Rourke holds himself and his reporters to a high standard of quality, consistency, and credibility.

“It’s not [the SF Chronicle’s] job on the news side to lean one way or the other,” said O’Rourke. “The core of objective reporting and fact-finding is at the heart of this work.”

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