Residing in Germany, Steffen Konrath is the Editor-in-Chief for the popular blog, NextLevelOfNews. He is also the Founder of Liquid Newsroom, a real-time news curator and ultra-fast publishing platform. Steffen has a reputation for his research on the future of journalism and media. Wish over 70,000 Twitter followers, he is sure to capture interesting and insightful information regarding technology and how it is affecting the traditional structures of journalism. We asked Steffen to share some of those fascinating findings with us.
Hi Steffen. What platforms do you think represent the future of journalism and information sharing?
We live in an era, in which the flow of news has found new channels and the gatekeeper is no longer needed to filter the huge amount of noise in search of relevant information. The flow of news between the people became more and more important for global news distribution in general. That’s why people witnessing events of change and confronted with catastrophes, turned to social networks like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and those alike to find someone who might listen to what’s happening. And yes they found an audience and a media eager to listen on the other side of the broadcast channels.
The exchange was so intense, that it was hard to follow the stream of news. It was too much for the general public. Tools were launched to ease the pain of following conversations on social media platforms; Burt Herman’s ‘Storify‘, for example. Others focused more on the verification of the news, like Mark Little’s ‘Storyful‘.
In your opinion, what does the future hold for print media?
Print won’t die. This industry will change, yes. It is still a completely different news experience and advertisers still pay high prices to advertise there. If we want to understand print and its future role, we should not only look at the information or news or entertainment it provides, but also closer at how people consume content. Second and not discussed so far is the impact that an all-things-digital world would have from an environmental perspective, since resources used are limited, like raw earths.
Tell us what Liquid News Room is about and how it differs from other publishers?
Confronted with catastrophes like the Great East Japan earthquake, the riots in London, Haiti in 2011, I missed an easy way to switch a newsroom environment within seconds to control the flood of information via social media and traditional news outlets. The Liquid Newsroom is liquid because it can easily be adjusted to new information streams. It can be set up within minutes, providing you with an overview over information from major information sources and the ability to take social media feeds into account as well. It was not built to be just another technological solution for existing newsrooms. It was built to disrupt the newsroom process and it also requires a completely different set of skills and roles. A beat curator curates the news in real-time. A source specialist makes sure that new sources such as Twitter accounts will be added to the news pipeline in time. A data analyst cares about the market response. Her job is to pick up the feedback of the readers. That’s how the Liquid Newsroom encourages the dialogue between those preparing the information and those trying to find answers.
My blog, nextlevelofnews.com, uses the technological infrastructure, but it is not the LNR. It is the first liquid newsroom and was built to explore the change in process, roles and writing. A liquid newsroom can be managed by one person at a specific place. And a LNR in Beirut could connect to the information of an LNR in Moscow, to create a news network on demand.
You have a large following on Twitter. Do you think that being a social media influencer changes the way you tweet and write?
Yes and no. The Liquid Newsroom focuses on news dialogue. As a news brand you need to find your style on Twitter, which helps your followers to find orientation as well. My follower base doesn’t change how I tweet, but definitely what I tweet. It is a great opportunity to get passive and active feedback. It is a catalyst to continue the discussion elsewhere, like Google+ or Facebook.
How has social networking changed journalism as a profession? For example, We have a South African journalist, Mandy Wiener, who live tweets court cases. Does this redefine the meaning of breaking news?
Social media challenges journalism. Without a gate to control it, you need to find ways to identify meaning in the noise. Journalists still have to fact-check, but the pressure to do that in real-time and with much more information than before is a challenge. It’s demanding. That’s why some of the news start-ups in the last year also tried to explore how to verify the information provided by the ‘new’ channels. Instead of the machine and pure algorithm based solutions I still believe that local experts will play key roles. That’s why the Liquid Newsroom strengthens the importance of a single journalist at a specific location, as he or she is the one responsible for verifying the Twitter sources and to control the news flow.
Thank you for talking to us, Steffen. A real-time news curator that uses a speedy platform is certainly necessary in this age of information overload. We look forward to seeing this grow.