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News or data, it's all about trust
Delaney Turner 270002T14M firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  news business_analytics
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My conversation with Karen Boddy began with her asking me why I chose Western for grad school and ended with me asking in return who's responsible for deciding what's true.
Not bad, considering this was all on one coffee and last night I did my taxes.
Karen's an alumni and development officer for Western's Faculty of Information and Media Studies. She wanted to chat about my experiences at the Journalism school (from what I remember, mostly positive), my career since then (again, mostly positive) and, based on my own experience, what the program should do to prepare students for a career in the world of "New Media."
In terms of professional preparation, I said prospective journalists should demonstrate at least three core qualities:
As our conversation went on I realized that these qualities were awfully close to those of a BI professional - especially the ones I've met in our Innovation Roundtable events. The most successful deployments are led by people who continually develop new ideas - who see the connection points among disparate data and use them to create new opportunities. These people can shape information to suit diverse (and divergent) user needs and technology environments. And they cultivate extensive professional networks within their organizations to seek out new users and attract converts to the cause.
Karen and I also talked about The Web. Once the caffeine kicked in I explained that in some respects, the Web has changed absolutely everything about the news. At the time everyone knew it was coming, but no one knew what it would mean. Given that newspapers and mass media more broadly have been in crisis ever since, you could argue that we still haven't figured it out. Print has panache, but fewer people than ever want to pay for it. Online paywalls aren't yet a viable business model. Bloggers, Twitter, YouTube have opened up a world of information. We make our own news and comment on it as it happens. For some people, Jon Stewart is more credible than Walter Cronkite ever was. Even if you have those core qualities, there's still too much in flux. A career in news is no sure thing.
On the other hand, the Web has changed absolutely nothing about the business. Editors must still look beyond the daily headlines and anticipate emerging stories. Reporters must still sift through a continuous stream of confusing and conflicting information to build a coherent and compelling story. If they've done their job well, they'll build an audience that trusts them to help them decide where to invest, how to vote - even what to eat.
Anticipate opportunity. Share insight. Build trust. Inform decisions. Yep, I was talking about business analytics all along.
My profs would be so proud.
(Photo courtesey of Wikimedia Commons)