utilizes changing journalism patterns

Miriam Williamson

Dr. Michelle Ferrier

Dr. Michelle Ferrier visits Janna Anderson's reporting for the Public Good class to discuss changing media patterns.

It’s been coming for a while now. News media are facing change.

The Internet is playing an enormous role in the transfer of information, and these days, nearly anyone can be a journalist.

Michelle Ferrier, managing editor for online community hubs at, visited Elon to discuss the changes in patterns in the distribution of news with communications professors and students in JCM 300.

Ferrier explained that in today’s society, the audience now has the same tools to gather and to publish information as traditional news organizations.

Readers are becoming writers with a strong ability to distribute their information. Now, the traditional organizations must restructure or fall behind.

“Some newspapers, believe it or not, still do not put their print content online,” Ferrier said.

But others are embracing the changes. CNN for example, is now putting video front and center on its Web site.

Also, more and more often, the community is involved, and user-generated content is actually receiving front and center coverage.

“There is an explosion of ability of you being heard,” Ferrier said.

Another trend is the “beat blogger.” Rather than beat reporters, people, both reporters and other community members, are using blogs to spread their information more quickly.

There are also “tweets” that are becoming more and more popular.

These are “very short microbursts of information.” They are 140 characters or less, and are sent to followers.

With, Ferrier and the Daytona Beach-News Journal in Daytona, Fla., have taken these ideas and created something to use to their advantage. With an abundance of online news forums dedicated to tourists in the area, wanted to reach out to the community.

“Our goal was to be like ‘Cheers,’” Ferrier said. “Where everyone knows your name.”

Ferrier describes the year-old site as a virtual local cafe, where everyone talks about the local news. Even with staff writers and stories pulled from the newspaper, the content community members demand and post takes precedence on this online news forum.

“The community response has been very good,” Ferrier said. “I have people as young as 13 and as old as … 88.”

And those are just the contributing writers and participating members – it doesn’t include other members who simply use the site to read.

As the methods for sharing information evolve, changes within the infrastructure of journalism will continue to change. For now, it appears as thought is an example of the future of the industry.

Here, Michelle Ferrier answers questions about from Elon journalism students. The questions and answers have been edited for time, but the meaning of the content has not been changed.

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One Comment on “ utilizes changing journalism patterns”

  1. Janna Says:

    It’s good to see this account of Dr. Ferrier’s visit to class. Nice work getting the video and a still photo posted. There’s some comprehensive journalism being practiced here.

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