In the span of a lifetime, hot type gave way to cold type, which in turn sank beneath a wave of websites and blogs and social media apps. Today, we have come to think that two-year-old tech is obsolete, and that new news can become old news before readers reach the last sentence.
Moreover, we’ve entered an age when, thanks to rapidly evolving technology, the practice of journalism is no longer restricted to journalists.
All of this is why the Society of Professional Journalists has tried to evolve as well — it’s casting a wider net for freelance news gatherers and non-affiliated journalists, and revising its Code of Ethics to meet the needs of the new age.
And it’s expanding the Digital Journalism committee into a digital journalism community.
The new community, SPJ Digital, began unofficially last week but already has a Twitter account (@SPJDigital) and a presence on Google+. It debuts officially in September at EIJ in Nashville under the shrewd guidance of student journalist and editor Alex Veeneman.
I have been invited to join the group and provide a weekly column highlighting the interests and issues that factor prominently in all our digital lives.
Incoming SPJ president Dana Neuts says SPJ Digital’s mission is to “examine and raise awareness of current trends in social media, as well as digital innovations and the digital culture and their affect on the culture, craft and practice of journalism.”
In committee form, Digital Journalism has been chiefly a conduit for information on digital culture. Members met at SPJ’s annual convocation to discuss potential topics for Net Worked, as well as the Digital Media Toolbox and occasional features in Quill, and report on hot tech and trends worthy of special consideration by SPJ leadership.
As a community, SPJ Digital will keep the discussion going year round, encourage input and participation from digitally savvy citizens both inside and outside journalism, and help everyone see the blur of onrushing technology a little more clearly.
The mission is to “serve all members interested in the digital future of the industry as well as the profession,” Neuts said.
A new landing site for SPJ Digital on SPJ.org is in the works. Neuts and Veeneman invite those who are interested in joining the community to stay tuned for updates and registration information at @SPJDigital, Google+.
And keep an eye open here as well. Once my weekly column launches, I expect some of the discussion to dribble onto these pages.