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Regional News of Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Source: GNA

Innovate or face extinction - Media admonished

Dr Bernard Otabil, General Manager of the Ghana News Agency (GNA) has urged media organisations to embrace technology through innovation to meet the needs of an increasingly sophisticated audience or find themselves out of business. He said there was the need for media organisations to encourage readers to interact with the news content through the use of social networks like facebook, twitter and other social media platforms.

Dr Otabil said this on Monday at the inaugural lecture on journalism and technology organized jointly by the GNA and Accra Institute of Technology (AIT) at the GNA Press Centre in Accra.

Speaking on the topic: “The Age of Technological Convergence: Opportunities and threats to media organisations and journalists”, Dr Otabil said Journalists should fuse relevant facts with citation, as well as engage in a search for visibility in their stories.

Dr Otabil said historically, the newsroom culture had been downright cynical about change stressing that most organizations are not willing to take a risk and not willing to applaud the effort.

“The very arrogance that alienates readers alienates the true innovators in newsrooms. The attempt to do something different is rarely rewarded on its own if the end result isn’t a blockbuster because folks are too busy pointing out what went wrong” he added.

He indicated that very often, errors occurred in news reportage because reporters knew too little about the subjects they covered, and urged media organisations to institute training programmes for their journalists, stressing that it was essential to creating the kind of journalism that today’s society wanted.

He said changes in technology had reshaped the media landscape, but only a few media organizations had taken advantage to explore the methods for communicating and collaborating with the technology.

Dr Otabil said technology adoption would help journalists and media organisations to treat the public more and more as advisors and not just end users, adding that for media organisations to survive, they need to become sensitive to what their communities want them to do.

He added that no longer were typewriters, notepads and tape recorders enough, and that Journalists needed to know how to use spread sheet and database software for computer-assisted reporting, mapping programmes for graphic packages and tools needed to partner with TV, radio and the Internet.

Dr Otabil said even though technological improvement had come with great advantage, there were also areas where it presented risks to many, especially media organisations that had failed to respond quickly, and journalists that failed to upgrade their skills to take advantage of this phenomenon.

Professor Clement Dzidonu, President of AIT, speaking on the topic: “Exploring the landscape of Journalism in the Emergence of Technological Age”, said unprecedented rapid growth in ICT was revolutionizing the way people lived, worked and learned.

Prof Dzidonu said information, knowledge and technology were increasingly becoming a pervasive feature of present day societies and economies, and will continue to be part and parcel of most of what people did in business, government and in society at large.

Prof Dzidonu said it was now possible for journalists and their media houses to use the technological resources at their disposal and the global reach of the Internet to design develop and disseminate news content, products and services to their audience anywhere in the world.

He said technological changes that influenced journalism, the new and emerging technologies including the Internet were bringing a revolutionary fundamental change of direction and emphasis of journalistic practice, products and services.

“Journalism has always been driven by technological change and when technology changes, the practice of journalism are forced to adjust, adapt and change.” He said some observers predicted the doom and death of print journalism, in the fast emerging digital world being dominated by the Internet, adding that the prediction was already happening in the developed world and will surely take hold in the developing world, once the greater proportions of the population got access to the Internet.

He said some argued that, radio and TV may survive a bit longer, but they will eventually go-under if they did not embrace and exploit the technology change and adapt their programming model and broadcast timely, interesting and informative content that took into account the fact that their audiences and listeners did now have free choices on the Internet.

“The future of Journalism lies in fully embracing the new technologies to effect a transformational change in the delivery of redefined, refined and repacked journalistic information, products and services using the delivery platform of the ever changing and advancing multimedia technologies,” he added.