It strikes me how quickly some more traditional (or at least I think of them traditional) media institutions have taken up the whole shift from paper to pixels. The ABC is one of those – the old girl usually the domain of crusty news anchors like Rod Young (well, I remember him as a little crusty, he’s actually kind of dashing here) and knitting events on AM radio. But even positively old sods like Spencer Howson from ABC radio in Brisbane, who gave a guest lecture last week in my Online Journalism class, are taking to Twitter and the rest with gusto. He was full of embarrassing stories about mishaps online, but the most interesting part of the whole lecture is how the shift online has simply made it easier for the creator and consumer of media content to interact.
Now, we’ve heard it all before – the internet has democratised information (well, for those of us fortunate enough to own a computer) and we’re all journalists and so on. But Howson’s lecture shows there’s also got to be some sort of correlation between online engagement and success in the media industry – for a guy with an early morning radio show (on the ABC no less), he’s a pretty popular guy, if his Twitter account is anything to go by. Indeed, a friend of mine came to the lecture not because she’s taking Online Journalism, but because she’s something of a Spencer Howson groupie. It sounds like a full time job – he describes pulling himself out of bed at three in the morning and checking tweets before breakfast. And he genuinely enjoys interacting with us normal folk, that’s the thing. People are interesting, and they do interesting things. That’s why I became/am becoming a journalist – to go out and learn something about all you crazy people. So although we’re not in the same particular format, something like Howson’s example of direct engagement with your audience seems like a pretty good way to gain a following and learn some more about you lot.