Somewhere in Richard K. Rein’s four-part series on the social media (May 5 through 26), the exultant cry was heard: “We are all journalists now!” While Rein was skeptical, the idea nevertheless deserves to be considered: The rise of Facebook, Twitter, and millions of blogs will collectively form a social media that will rival (or surpass) the mass media that now roams the intellectual landscape.
And the public, armed with their smartphones and E-mail alerts, will play a role in shaping the news, even as they consume it. Professional reporters will file their stories first online, and the public will react with comments and follow-up questions. If one aspect of a breaking news stories remains unclear, the public may weigh in with various opinions — crowd-sourcing is the new buzz word. Play this all out to its extreme and you won’t need an editor or a newspaper — we’re all journalists now.
Expect some casualties along the way. A conference last year at Princeton University noted the virtual disappearance of reporters covering the state government in Trenton. As far as we can tell neither the Trentonian nor the Times of Trenton has a dedicated business reporter anymore — the business pages are filled with wire service copy and opinion columns.
And if business news is hard to come by in the local media, then science and technology reporting is even more precious. The Trenton Times has been running a series in its Sunday paper on researchers and their areas of interest. And here at U.S. 1 we continue to take a strong interest in both business and technology. Take, for example, this week’s story by Michele Alperin, which takes aim at both technology (specifically pharmaceutical R&D) and business (the new partnering approach that the big pharmas are embracing to broaden the reach of their drug “pipelines.”
Appreciating all the reporting that went into Alperin’s story, we thought back to last week’s story on book publishing and Lanny Jones’s sidebar on writing. “Get an iron butt,” Jones advised writers, who often find themselves sitting at a keyboard longer than they would like. We are all journalists, especially when the task is to crank out a 140-character Tweet. When the assignment is a feature such as this week’s cover story, the field is greatly reduced.
Meet the Writers. If we are all journalists then we should be ready for a stampede at our book-signing reception next Wednesday, June 16, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Tre Piani restaurant in Princeton Forrestal Village. We will salute Greg Olsen and Tom Lento on their new book, “By Any Means Necessary — An Entrepreneur’s Journey into Space” (U.S. 1, June 2).
All journalists, writers, would-be writers, Twitterers, Facebookers, and old-fashioned readers are invited to this free event. We will provide some hors d’oeuvres; a cash bar will be open. But mostly we hope to present some good cheer to all those who toil to put words to screens.