A Student’s Perspective: Social Media Week Ends with a Tribute to A Great Journalist

Hoda Emam is a student at Columbia’s School of Journalism, and one of ten students providing on the ground coverage of SMWNYC. This is her account, both written and photographic, of “Challenging Conventional Wisdom of Social Media: Socmedia Editors Share Their Latest Ideas.”

In the same room that Anthony Shadid’s work was twice decided as worthy of a Pultizer Prize for International Reporting, Social Media Week attendees gathered to celebrate his life.

When news of his death broke out on February 16, the online community took to various social media platforms to mourn his loss. Anthony Shadid was even trending worldwide on Twitter.

At the Columbia School of Journalism Joseph Pulitzer World Room, guests of the event placed down their smart phones and laptops to stand for a moment of silence. Several of the attendees of Social Media Week approached the podium to express their thoughts.

Professor Ann Cooper, an internationally known journalist and executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists said, “It feels like I have lost a trusted guide to what has happened in the Middle East.”

In April 2011, Anthony Shadid and three of his NY Times colleagues were released from captivity in Libya. Their first public event after their return was at Columbia University. In response to why Shadid covers stories that takes him to dangerous parts of the world, Cooper read a comment that Shadid made during the discussion, “We are taking these risks because these stories wouldn’t be told otherwise.”

Shadid was also a great influence for many aspiring journalists including, Namo Abdullah, a graduate student from Kurdistan. Abdullah’s voice trembled as he reminisced Shadid’s support and inspiration over the two years of their friendship. “If there were no Anthony I wouldn’t have understood even my own country, as good as I do now.”

Liz Heron, the NY Times social media editor, had worked with Shadid and his wife Nada Bakri for a period of time. She took to the podium and commented on Shadid’s passing. “It also makes me realize that you know his brand of foreign correspondence is so vital today, even among all these new different models of foreign correspondence that we are coming up with now,” said Heron. “It’s really complimentary to the kind of social media correspondence that is coming up and it can’t be left behind.”

Shadid, 43, was known for his gifted eye for detail and his contextual writing. He leaves behind Columbia Graduate and NY Times reporter Nada Bakri and their two children.

Before moving into the final panel discussion for Social Media Week attendees were reminded of Shadid’s humble character. His twitter page was displayed showing his title as simply a “Journalist and Writer.” In a time when social media is understood to be a platform to display ones credits and experiences, Shadid’s profile is a model of selflessness.

Hoda Emam is currently an Master of Science candidate in Digital Media at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. Hoda’s recent experience includes working with ABC News and the United Nations.

Reporting on Reporting: The Evolution of Journalism at Mashable’s NextUp NYC

Matt Wurst is Manager of Digital Communities at 360i. You can follow him on Twitter @mwurst.

If video killed the radio star, is Internet killing the print and video stars? And if so, how should current journalists adapt and current journalism students prepare?

These are questions that newspapers and television networks are grappling with on a daily basis. They were also among the many topics discussed at Mashable’s “NextUp NYC – The Future Journalist” event last night at the 92YTribeca as part of Social Media Week here in New York.

A year ago, TIME magazine predicted that a journalism crisis was approaching “meltdown proportions” and that “some major cities will no longer have a newspaper.” The alarm bells rang even louder when The Rocky Mountain News and Seattle Post-Intelligencer shut down for good and The Philadelphia Daily News and Minneapolis Star-Tribune filed for bankruptcy soon thereafter.

Video coverage of Wednesday’s panel:

But according to last night’s panelists, Sree Sreenivasan (@sreenet), the Columbia Journalism School Dean of Students, and Vadim Lavrusik (@lavrusik), one of Professor Sreenivasan’s Digital Media graduate students, journalism isn’t dying. It’s simply evolving. Even as many traditionalists feared the end of beat reporters, in-depth coverage, investigative reporting and newsmaker/celebrity accountability, the sounds of their struggles are being drowned out by the sound of keyboards clicking, video streams playing, Twitter feeds refreshing and RSS feeds updating.

With upwards of three hundred journalists, PR gurus and social media aficionados filling the lofted space in lower Manhattan, the teacher and his student optimistically agreed that a new era of “tra-digital” journalism, the surface of which has barely been breached, is upon us. They astutely compared where we are now in a digital age to where radio was in 1912 and television was in 1950. (You can view their shared presentation at http://bit.ly/futurej.)

As a veteran of the news industry and well-connected social media insider, Sreenivasan navigated through the multiple uses of new and emerging platforms and how they can apply to the “old world.” (He doesn’t get GoogleWave yet, but who does?)  He emphasized the need for today’s journalists to learn multiple talents while retaining a specialty that distinguishes them from their peers. Working together, Sreenivasan and Lavrusik also explained how to become a multimedia storyteller, “learning and understanding what media is right for what story.”

Some other required qualities and skills for experienced and news journalists alike are to become reliable “pointers,” helping cut through the noisy clutter and sharing good content from across the web. They stressed the value of “community managers” that listen and interact with readers/viewers and don’t simply broadcast their messages in one direction. Additional “best practices” encourage newshounds to think about their own brand and adopt an entrepreneurial spirit.

The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism is a top, if not THE top, journalism program in the country. Yet the curriculum taught just a decade ago is already an antiquated relic of a lost era. Faced with advances in technology and expanded use of the Internet, the next generation of journalists is training for professional opportunities in a changing media landscape that might be very different in another ten years down the road. Meanwhile, the journalists of today must reconstruct their skill sets for the growing world of online media.

It is imperative that journalists of today and tomorrow develop a “digital media mindset”—how to think about news stories and packages from an online perspective. Look no further than our hosts for the evening.  Mashable plays an important role in the publication of digital news, trends and technologies. (In fact, Mashable has become such an institution in my own daily diet of fact-gathering that it now holds the fourth spot on my iGoogle home page, batting clean-up behind my Gmail inbox and RSS feeds from CNN and ESPN.)

Throughout the course of the discussion, a number of the journalists in the room were taking notes, some even sticking around as the crowds dispersed to learn more, dig deeper – clear indication of a reporter’s nose for information, if you will. And that, as the professor noted throughout his presentation, is just one of several skills that will never be rendered obsolete, along with the ability to observe, ask questions, process thoughts and write.