Adapting to the 24/7 News Cycle

Maybe things aren't as bad as we thought?

That seemed to be the general sentiment of The Huffington Post's Arianna Huffington, David Carr of The New York Times and Mark E. Russell, print news manager for the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel.

"I think we are getting to the good part," said Carr, "that's what it feels like to me."

All agreed that new media is still a developing aspect of the news industry, and each spoke of the challenges and benefits of adapting to what has now become a 24-hour news cycle.

"Its all a work in progress, it isn't like, 'This is it,'" Huffington said.

The Huffington Post has used original content, news aggregation and modern media tools to be an innovator for new media journalism. But Huffington warned that tools making it increasingly easy to shoot out information might be weakening the depth of stories.

"There are more and more stories without context," Huffington said. "We have so much data, but we don’t have enough stories that capture the public imagination.

"How do we do journalism in a way that breaks through the static, captures the public imagination, and makes an impact?"

The panel also addressed the issue of public involvement and the best ways of monitoring reader participation.

The Huffington Post and The Washington Post have both made strides to monitor reader comments and eliminate "fiery" posts in hopes of creating a trustworthy community.

"If we are going to invite people to join in on a conversation," Russell said, "it should be a civil conversation or they're not going to come back."

Russell said in order to be successful, publications have to connect with the people they want to connect with by being in the spaces they're in.

This public outreach has been a successful venture for the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel, which used Facebook to develop the story of a high-profile Orlando shooting.

Unable to get the police to confirm the name of a downtown Orlando shooting victim, Russell said the Sentinel turned to the public Facebook page of the suspected victim. Through the page, reporters connected to family and friends of the victim who were able to confirm the shooting and enable the paper to write a compelling story for the print edition.

"It's not how many times we tweet or update our Facebook," Huffington said, "but how effectively we can use the new media and new technologies to tell the stories of our time."

By Adam Kerlin