Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Powerful journalists, conflicting visions

In the last week Creative Communications students have heard two powerful Canadian journalists argue for opposing visions of the future.

Margo Goodhand, editor of the Winnipeg Free Press, told students on Oct. 21 that the iPad will save newspapers, including hers. She has asked for an iPad for Christmas, by which time she hopes her newspaper will be available on it.

But on Oct. 26 Dawna Friesen, television anchor of Global National, pooh-poohed the whole social media thing.

The Free Press is moving somewhat cautiously into the world of online journalism. Readership of its website is growing, particularly for big news stories such as last weekend’s double killing in the city. With circulation of the dead-trees edition slowly sinking, online is the obvious way to go.

Goodhand’s vision involves the withering away of the newspaper into just two departments, news and advertising. No more presses, no more trucks.

Friesen, who described herself as an “old fart” and “dinosaur,” is much cooler on this newfangled stuff, especially Twitter and blogging.

Her bosses want her to tweet, she reported. Hmm … that’s often a strong hint of the proper course of action. But her most recent tweet was almost three weeks old.

"What am I supposed to say?” Nobody would be interested that she just had a coffee, she told us.

After some love-bombing by students, who are required to maintain a Twitter feed and a blog, Friesen acknowledged that maybe she should give social media another chance.

Sure enough, within a couple of hours she tweeted three times, including once about being hungry for a cinnamon bun.

Good on her for trying it again. Let’s follow her Twitter feed to see how she keeps it up.

Goodhand does not tweet but her newspaper is quite active on Twitter. And it is experimenting with online delivery, including a surprisingly addictive live streaming traffic cam at one of Winnipeg’s contentious new traffic circles.

From my online consumption of journalism I would say that many newspapers and magazines are moving online faster than broadcasters, with notable exceptions such as BBC and CBC.

The old farts and dinosaurs need to catch up with the students.


  1. I agree completely. I read the "paper" edition of the Winnipeg Free Press once a week, but I'm reading the website several times a day. I get links to interesting stories on Twitter, and I've been very impressed with the dedication Winnipeg Free Press journalists have for Twitter. When they come out with an iPad and and an iPhone app, I'll definitely be purchasing it.

  2. I think that some people in attendance who tweeted Friesen's sentiments about social media took some of her comments out of context. I voice-recorded Friesen's visit to RRC, and have listened to it several times now.

    Following some of the inaccurate tweets from Friesen's talk to CreCommers, a barrage of negative talk about this self-professed 'dinosaur' followed on blogs and Twitter.

    Since, I have noticed some of those original tweets have been deleted (I assume because they were indeed out of context, and disproved their own intended point about the validity of social media in journalism completely).

    Ms. Friesen was just stating the truth, and the aftermath of her RRC visit proved her point. You have to 'trust your source' and 'make sure info is in context to the story.' This is so true, even if the source is a trusted authority, journalist, or even a CreComm instructor.

    Like she said about good journalism, "Stories need a beginning, a middle, and an end." Not just a beginning.

    Twitter CAN be journalism, but it isn't always...

  3. ps.
    To clarify, the CreComm instructor whom I refer is not Mr. McMonagle.