The dawn of the “personal journalist”

Posted on January 9, 2009 
Filed Under Journalism

WANTED: Personal journalist. Must be able to gobble up massive quantities of media – RSS feeds, blogposts, tweets, Facebook updates, podcasts, Youtube videos, Flickr photos on daily basis – and turn it into easily digestible bits of gold for superbusy C-level executive.

Michael Hedges suggests the possibility of the personal journalist – similar to that of the personal trainer or personal shopper:

The personal journalist is a wave or two beyond the tried and busted ‘user-generated content’ and ‘citizen journalist.’ Neither found a business model. Citizen journalism, a term invented by accountants, past its prime when listeners, viewers and readers lost interest in ‘reports’ from the 16 year old on the corner with a cell-phone camera. Blogs, touted as giving voice to many, became, largely, ranters ranting to themselves or PR people posting the daily spin. Blog creation has peaked, wrote the Pew Research Center in a 2007 report. The successful became niche publishers, albeit of the traditional media model. The rest are just out there, hanging by the Web.

User-generated content is another concept designed to warm the accountants’ books. Couple it with the much vaunted social networking sites and zillions of web hits are created. All content may, indeed, be equal for 20 year old user/creators but an adult looking for knowledge and clarity is left empty. Unfortunately, sources for adults have evaporated into the dither of click-through ads.

Imagine a typical appointment with the personal journalist. Busy humans, executives in their own right, need to acquire knowledge efficiently. While an executive might be buried in reports and analysis and numbed by 15 news channels, the personal journalist answers the need by asking the right questions, getting the story and delivering it in 750 words, voice or text, to the device of choice. Is it worth €75 a hour – the rate personal trainers charge – to avoid the 3 hours sifting through 250,000 search engine results, only 2 of which might yield a shred of knowledge?

The personal journalist does, in fact, do what journalists do best: keep their eyes open. In addition to providing the news you need, the personal journalist brings serendipity to the day. What a joy it would be to have that concise ‘news for you’ mixed with the occasional ‘…and think about this.’ And best of all, the personal journalist is ‘on and gone.’ No promos. No pop-up ads.

Media in the 21st century is buckling under the empowerment of users to get the information and entertainment they want, whenever and however they want it. The next step in that empowerment provides both clarity and expertise with greater sensitivity to time economy. Sad for some, technology will take a smaller role.

Of course, you might want to share your personal journalist with others. What might that be called?



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