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Physical newspapers aren’t dying off – they’re evolving

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Combine that enhanced access with social-networking tools and the adoption of new reporting formats and you get news websites that are a far cry from ones created only a few years ago. Journalists are turning to Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, and other social-networking sites as a way to gather and share information. In addition, they are presenting stories in different forms – blogs, dazzling interactive Web pages, tapping into databases to create graphics that update in real time, etc.

These trends in news gathering and delivery were obvious during the recent Online News Association conference in Washington. (Disclosure: I helped arrange the conference, but I had nothing to do with the selection of content or speakers.) Two things really struck me about the three-day event:

1) Audience expectations for news websites are changing and they want more reporting that fits high-bandwidth connections.

2) There are even more new tools that journalists can use to tell stories either by themselves or with the help of their readers.

Leave it to Robert Scoble of FastCompany.tv to provide an example that goes to the heart of the matter. During his keynote address at the conference, Mr. Scoble was also broadcasting it via his cellphone to his Internet followers. Later, he took questions from them and the audience at the same time.

Scoble argued that all this connectivity changes journalism by opening it up. If a reporter conducts an interview with a newsmaker during a live broadcast, “people can send questions as the interview takes place.”

This takes advantage of members of the audience that have a deeper understanding of certain issues. (You might call it “open source journalism.”) So a journalist can use these new platforms to use “the crowd smarts” to ask more pointed questions.

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