The survival of traditional media is dependent on its willingness to package citizen content into news stories, according to Storyful CEO and founder Mark Little.
In his first Australian address as part of The Newspaper Works Future Forum in Sydney, Mr Little said that news outlets needed to foster a high level of social media literacy across all staff to remain competitive.
Technological changes and the “socialisation” of news has meant that journalists have lost the monopoly on breaking news to anybody with a smartphone, Mr Little explained.
“We have professional storytelling in the age of the amateur. Companies need to use all available data and sources to achieve good storytelling.
“It’s not about listening to the ‘voice of God’ telling us the news anymore,” he said. “Today’s consumers have so much choice.”
Storyful, the world’s first social media news agency, acts as a mediator between citizens and corporations, by verifying shared sources to ensure accuracy and truth and then acquiring the rights to deliver them for use, enabling new and old media to collaborate.
Mr Little said that while there was never a better time to be a journalist, the requirements of the industry were changing, and publishers needed to adapt by giving social media a stronger presence in the newsroom and in journalists’ skill sets.
“Our job now, as journalists, is to manage and filter the overabundance of content being created by the people we used to think about as our audience.
“To rely on social media we need to separate the noise from the news.”
With this new balance of power, Mr Little said journalists needed to value authenticity of sources over authority.
As consumers increasingly find their news via social media rather than the homepage, he also declared the age of search gone: “we’re now in the age of serendipity”.
“In journalism we are not moving from one place to the next, but learning to live with perpetual motion,” he said.
“One day the next generation will laugh at us when we tell them we sat down at 9 o’clock and waited for journalists to read us the news. They will laugh at us when we tell them we bought a newspaper to read on the train.
“But what won’t change is people’s need for somebody they can trust who can tell them. This is a story worth telling.”