It´s been three months since I taught my first class at the University of Iowa. I still feel as a newcomer to the US, everything popping up in front of me as untouched rewards to my ethnographer eyes. But somehow, after a while, the discussions, the trends in the online journalism world here -both in the academia and the profession- sound familiar to me:
Online editors in the US complain that they don’t get well trained and open-minded fresh new journalists from the universities; I can tell you that’s also the case in my homeland, Catalonia. We are all still struggling with the challenge of teaching web basics and at the same time the real thing of professional online publishing.
Convergence stays on as a buzzword, but no one can say they got the formula for success (Mindy McAdams argued a while ago, very convincingly, that ‘Convergence is dead‘… but the fact is that the industry still carries on the torch); intentions, promises, but where are the facts? Is convergence fostering better journalism? I can’t believe that announcements of web and print staff mergers (in Spain, in France, in Latin America, in the US) are to be good for online journalism. The immature medium will lose on the way if there is no part of the newsroom devoted to take care of the website as their only priority. I understand that print journalists could do the effort of creating content for the web, but they need someone to lead them in that discovery.
Citizen journalism, participatory journalism, user-generated content… That’s the big thing now and these multiple labels just show how divided are the opinions. The idea of having active users providing content in the context of professional media websites or outside them both attracts and scares journalists. Most of the debates missing the point, I guess: the question is not ‘Is users’ content journalism?’. That is an sterile and defensive question. The discussion would be much more useful if we asked ourselves: ‘Is citizen participation helping to improve journalism and democracy?’.
Hope I can contribute to the debate from this blog by joining the super active and inspiring English-speaking o-j blogosphere. I’ll try to feed in the perspective of online journalism evolution in my cultural referents (Catalonia, Spain, Europe) and bring back to my homeland what I can learn from the US. Next stations in the atoms world: Austin, Texas; Tampere, Finland. I’m looking forward to these gatherings and the talk we can generate around them!