Digital Pioneers Weigh In on the Future of News

The "Next Generation Digital Visionaries: What Do They Think" panel brought together young journalists riding the wave of technology with seasoned reporters to discuss the new generation's take on news in the digital age. Moderated by Ken Auletta, media critic for The New Yorker, the panel discussed the changing role of technology in the news industry.

Panelists Megan Garber, assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, Zachary Seward, outreach editor at the Wall Street Journal and Matt Thompson, editorial product manager for National Public Radio addressed the tools and business strategies news organizations need to adapt to keep up with their consumers.

Garber highlighted fact-checking technologies available to journalists to ensure accuracy as one of the things she's excited about.

"I hope that they don't stay separate from news organizations," she said. "[I hope] that the ethos that they embody will actually be embodied by news organizations generally."

The legitimacy of blogging and the professionalism of bloggers also came into question during the panel. Throughout the day the topic has come up in several different discussions but the opinions were less harsh with these panelists.

Thompson stressed the importance of not asking whether or not bloggers are professional journalists, but what good journalism is.

Garber insisted that intentions were more important than the platform or the identity and that some blogs are legitimate while others may have other motives or an ax to grind. She went on to say that the difference between the former and the latter are usually very apparent by the content.

Auletta posed the question of the iPad's impact on the news industry and received strong responses from the panelists.

Seward said the iPad is a good opportunity for news organizations to develop apps but that the technology will not be a game changer for the industry because it doesn't change the fundamental ad revenue issue most publications are facing.

"To think that a device is going to transform an industry is not true," said Seward. "I think there are many aspects to executing a newspaper business plan; I would say one of the smallest is any kind of paid apps on these devices."

Thompson related the industry's excitment with the iPad to the industry's excited about a transformative pricing model which, according to him, has still not been done.

Overall the panel was very optimistic about the opportunities the digital revolution presented to today's newsrooms.

Quoting Charles Dickens, Thompson said that it is the best of times and the worst of times for the industry. Although he admitted that he harbors feelings of both pessimism and optimism, Thompson believes that the savvy news consumer can find a great news product.

Reporter: Nikole L. Pegues, Howard University