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Brad Kalbfeld April 5, 2011

Posted by acusumano in : Assignments , add a comment

In today’s class, we heard from Brad Kalbfeld, who among other things, is the editor of the “Associated Press Broadcast News Handbook.” Kalbfeld brought us on a journey across the decades, showcasing his early reporting equipment (namely, a typewriter) and leading into how the advent of the iPhone has become a universal journalism tool.

Through the use of flowcharts that display the differences between the modern era of news versus the way it was in the past, Kalbfeld argued that nowadays, the audience has more power than ever in dictating what news they read and watch. There used to be a limited amount of choices–three channels, two newspapers in most markets–but now the audience is overwhelmed with options.

Of course, there are pros and cons to that. There is less of a duty to be balanced because there are niche (and mainstream) publications that appeal to every sort of political/religious/ethnic population. Amateur journalists also don’t have the same skills or background that should, in theory, lead to quality and ethical reporting.

Kalbfeld suggests readers look at the “About Us” page to learn about the attitudes and biases of particular journalists. News is now a brand, and some viewers consume it based on factors that other than what would best serve them (the attractive anchor, the political attitude, even the style or format of the page). News is at its best when it interacts with the audience, rather than being a one-way street as it used to be: ignoring the audience is a good way to see it flock to somewhere else.

I thought Kalbfeld was an especially interesting guest because he’s been around in journalism for so long and has first-hand experience in vastly different circumstances of news filtering. It was a really excellent presentation.