On April 18th Mark Stencel, managing editor for NPR’s digital media, gave a talk titled “This Just In: Keeping Up With the Digital Clock.” The lecture was in honor of Howard Ziff, who created the journalism program at UMass, and recently passed away.
Stencel’s lecture discussed many topics that news outlets have been dealing with in recent months. Stencel established that NPR’s traditional radio format needed to adapt with the times. They have mobile apps, a multifaceted website, and are using social media to connect with the public. Similar to other large news organizations, NPR is struggling with some if the technological advances. As Stencel said, “New Formats, new standards.” He also explained, “we’re a radio network. We’ve got to figure out how to do visual journalism.”
In addition to having to figure out visual journalism, NPR’s attempts at expanding include very active participation in social media. Stencel put it quite bluntly, “if you’re not social, you’re dead.” He continued to explain “this is a place where we can have conversation with our audience.” I really appreciated this aspect of his talk. The interactivity of new media is something that I think is a wonderful aspect to how news is being delivered.
However, as technology advances, there is a need to be mobile and as close to instant as possible. Because one can get their news in real-time, it is basically a necessity for news organization to have it consumable that quickly. This speediness raises many issues for accuracy. This was a large part of Mark Stencel’s lecture. He emphasized that it is harder to be accurate because the demand for faster news is high, and with things like Twitter, it is difficult to determine if what someone tweets is the truth or not. It is something that many news organizations are struggling with, but I appreciated how honest he was that NPR has made mistakes and that dealing with these various issues is not easy.
The one aspect of Mark Stencel’s talk that I was not fond of was how unexciting the presentation itself was. What he had to say was excellent, but he just stood at the front with a simple powerpoint. I felt as though if he is going to talk about exciting new media and interactivity, he should have made his presentation both of those things.