The Future of News

Michael Duffy, the vice president of Operations for ABC News, lectured and answered questions about the future of news broadcasting at an event hosted by the College of Professional Studies Honor Society last Thursday in Council Hall.

Duffy said that the new focus of news broadcasting will be bringing information to people in a variety of different mediums. He believes that television is no longer a focal point in American homes and people want their news brought to them at their convenience.

Duffy, a long time producer and native New Yorker, has been with ABC for more than 30 years, acting as senior producer of America Held Hostage and “covering news throughout North, Central and South America, Western and Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Pacific Basin,” according to the St. John’s Web site.

Duffy said that during his time working in the news industry, he has seen television play a major role in the way people learn about catastrophes and triumphs.

In the future, he said, online technology will bring these events to the public and the major networks are investing in equipment that will streamline the process of filming the news and broadcasting it.

“People, on average, get 32 minutes of news a day from the Internet,” he said.

He added that in this age of Blackberrys and iPods, the major networks are shifting their news gathering techniques to accommodate Internet technology so that it can be viewed in any way and at any time. This is important because students looking for jobs in the news industry should be prepared to work with the new technology.

The industry is also aware that as more people have access to the Internet and new technology, there will be more people creating their own version of the news.

“We plan to steal from bloggers,” Duffy said, explaining that major news outlets realize that there is a resource in the democratization of information and that people who post blogs may have access to newsworthy information before the networks.

Duffy also mentioned that in the field of live or pre-recorded video feeds of news events or special reports it is an unavoidable disadvantage that the visual quality of broadcasting may go down when using the Internet to transmit news. He added, however, that the flexibility offered by this medium should more than make up for the reduced video quality.

The professors of the College of Professional Studies plan on helping students learn how to act as reporters through new mediums of technology by changing the focus of the journalism program. Dr. Judith Cramer, a professor who teaches the principles of broadcast journalism, believes in teaching the production values associated with different types of media.

“We expect them to be proficient in any medium,” she said
She explained that a reporter would have to cover a story differently if he were planning to broadcast it over the Internet rather than print it in a newspaper. The key issue is avoiding distortion and bias.

“Rookies look at the news through fresh lenses,” Cramer concluded. “Veterans are looking at it through tried and true lenses.”