Mark Potts talks online journalism, Twitter and the future of how we consume the news

Summary: Journalist and founder of the blog “Recovering Journalist” Mark Potts discusses why bloggers are the most passionate journalists, the uselessness of Twitter, and how the digital revolution has and will continue to change the way we consume the news.

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Online journalists need to “use the medium to tell the story,” Mark Potts told a group of George Mason online journalism students today. The reporter/futurist/founder of the blog Recovering Journalist showered the class with Web sites as he gave his insights on the trend of journalism today.

Hyper-local journalism in an interesting model, Potts said, and utilizing passionate bloggers who focus on their local community can help break previously overlooked stories. Potts doubts the success of the hyper-local Web site Patch.com saying that it does not harness the organic growth of these blogs and should instead focus on aggregating stories rather than creating it from scratch.

Potts also touched on “computational journalism,” using the power of a personal computer to analyze data and disseminating the results. One successful site is fivethirtyeight.com, which successfully predicted primary race results in 2008 before its founder was offered a job at the New York Times.

Instead of delivering the news, some organizations are finding was for its readers to interact with it. “I learned more about city planning by playing (Sim City) than in any college course,” Potts said, providing a personal example of learning through a video game. Allowing people to learn through simulations is more engaging and can be an effective tool when explaining processes not commonly known to the general public. The popularity of Zyanga games on social networking sites shows that this medium shows future promise, Potts added.

Unlike many journalists and technology enthusiasts, Potts is not a fan of Twitter. “I find twitter absolutely useless,” he said of the social networking site, “it great for publicity… but is not a tool I would use as a journalist.”



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