The web works in such counter-intuitive ways to traditional media that everyone has to get used to new ways of doing things. Take journalists. They once enjoyed a gloriously monopolistic approach to distributing news and content but are developing the understanding that their role is changing rapidly and that they are no longer the gatekeepers. This changing role is captured neatly by Alfred Hermida, writing about a speech given by Tim Rosenstiel, Director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism who outlined four potential new roles for journalists:
- Authenticator: Help the audience figure out what to believe, what can they trust
- Sense-maker: Help the audience derive meaning from what is happening in the world
- Navigator: Help the audience find their way around a story or issue and point them to the “good stuff”. Scott Karp has coined a phrase "link journalism" to descibe this
- Forum-leader: Help the audience engage in a discussion in a knowledgeable way
I believe there remains an important role for the trusted voice of an editor in a world of ubiquitous content. Good ones really understand the audience they are writing for and that still has tremendous value. But like marketing, journalism is changing forever. To quote Alfred:
"…journalism is shifting from being a product to a service and, with this, a news outlet shifts from being a final destination to being part of a network."