One of the first things we were required to do as part of our Humphrey seminar was to blog. I’m a notorious and perennial technophobe. I thought, “oh no, not another new online aspect to learn”. So much information was being thrown our way about social networks and branding and online presence that I balked and immediately crept back into my technophobe shell. That’s despite the fact that one of the things I wanted to do with my sabbatical was to become more tech savvy. This wasn’t motivated just by my interest in online media but also by a recognition that the more technically apt we are as Africans,the greater the benefits for our continent.
As far as social media is concerned,I had complied with Facebook, twitter,about.me, pinterest etc, I just couldn’t bear the thought of another element to master. One of the things which discouraged me is that when I tried to post a blog on our Humphrey page, I couldn’t because for some reason the log in, didn’t match the password I had entered and my brain at that time threatened to burst at the thought of yet more passwords to remember. So I abandoned blogging until today, five months into my Humphrey year.
I suspect that digging in my heels is tantamount to the attitude of most traditional media players who were caught like deer in the headlights by the phenomenal growth of online media over the past decade and failed to respond in a way that didn’t make them seem obsolete. Those news outlets which have embraced the Internet age , social media and evolved with the times have come up as winners. Those that don’t have lost out in terms of advertising revenue and in some instances have shut down.
As a news anchor, I’m not necessarily wedded to the notion that we will always be at the forefront of, or the main source of news, I know that the world is changing and as such more people now access their news online. I am one of them. However TV news still plays an enormous role in being a major source of information. We see this particularly when it comes to breaking news events for example, the Marikana massacre in South Africa and Hurricane Sandy in the U.S. At moments like that people will still turn to TV for rolling and visual news coverage.
This afternoon, I gave a talk about the important role played by news anchors in relaying information and the public’s understanding of news events. We stand on the shoulders of giants ,people like Walter Cronkite, who went out of their way to be well-informed and then unflappable in their delivery of seminal events to the public they served. There will always be a place for us.
One of the important things we miss out on as we transition from reporter to anchor are some of the technical aspects of media because by being an on air personality,so much is done for us by the big teams that put us to air,we never really need to know how they put together their pretty animations,graphics or videos,we simply focus on the content and interviews.
Being relevant lies in embracing and engaging new technology. I’ve learnt so much in my time here. Instead of just being a consumer of online news and media, I’m learning to be a creator of it as well. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been learning “code” so I can create my own website. A few months ago, I would have given someone a blank stare if they’d asked me if I knew “code” or simply told them to stop watching too many spy movies. Now I’m actually doing it. When I was a young radio reporter 15 years ago, we used tape recorders to record audio and then went back to studio to edit it,now that can be done instantaneously. The times, they are a-changing as the saying goes, and we must change with them.