Image courtesy of Astrid Kopp http://www.flickr.com/photos/astridwalter/4716893540/in/photostream/

Image courtesy of Astrid Kopp http://www.flickr.com/photos/astridwalter/4716893540/in/photostream/

Do you remember how much fun it was to read the advice column in the newspaper?  Or maybe you recall reading the “Say Anything” section in magazines, where people would send in their most embarrassing moments to share with the world.  Did you ever call your favorite radio station to request that a song be played? It’s nothing new, people have always loved being involved with their media of choice.

Technology is progressing, and sadly, print-media consumption is dwindling.  Younger generations are turning to smart phones for their news, and Twitter is the new lifeline of current information.  Should all journalists follow the trend by reaching their audiences through digital journalistic techniques? I don’t think the answer is a simple “yes” or “no”.

In my opinion, journalism is a form of art and it is up to each individual journalist to decide what will work best for them.  For example, a sports television show would probably find social media to be useful.  Their viewers could watch the event while tweeting their opinions on a specific play to the commentator.  Then, the sports reporter can discuss the fans’ input on live television.  This way, the viewers are involved and feel as if they are contributing to their favorite show.

On the other hand, what if a journalist writes about taboo issues and appreciates their privacy? What if, by writing a particular story, a journalist could be risking their own safety? In these cases, I think that the public should not have direct communication with the journalist and that social media would be inappropriate.

It is also important to remember the demographics of consumers.  There are the university students, like myself, who thrive on Twitter, YouTube, and iPhone apps.  On the other hand, there are consumers, like my parents, who treasure the tradition of reading the newspaper and completing the crossword puzzles with a steaming cup of coffee in the morning.  As long as they live, I am positive that most people in my parents’ demographic will never open a Twitter account.

Each demographic is equally important.  It is up to the individual journalist to decide which group they want to target, and which marketing strategy suits them best.

You can read more on this topic at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism website or on Read All About It.