Book Club Channel
Casting Wide in the ‘Net: An Interview with Brandon Vogt
You have some very impressive names endorsing this book—how did that come about?
Two simple words - "I asked." Figuring the answer was definitely "no" unless I gave it a shot, I petitioned some of the biggest names I could think of. I was blown away when so many of them responded with rave reviews.
I think one reason why so many high-profile bishops endorsed the book is that they understand how important new media is for the Church. And they want other Catholics to jump on board. Modern new media includes the most potent evangelistic tools the Church has ever seen—it has never been quicker, easier, or cheaper to promote the Gospel than it is now. So by endorsing the book, these prominent leaders are making a bold statement not just to their brother clerics but to the greater Catholic community: we need to engage new media.
You are a journalist and you have a blog as well; can you tell me what launched you toward journalism to begin with, and whether you see tension between establishment and alternative media?
In the digital age, we're all journalists. It used to be that you turned to trusted anchors or reporters for the news. But now, we all offer public analysis. We all report on news, comment on culture, and share our views with the world. Anyone with a Facebook account or blog can spread their words to more people—and in a faster time—than most newspapers have ever been able to.
Also, the lines between 'traditional media' and 'new media' are quickly blurring. Newspapers have started blogs, are active on Facebook and Twitter, and comment boxes are now standard on every online article. On the other hand, many bloggers now turn their posts into print-on-demand books.
So in the future, I don't think we'll focus so much on whether someone is a journalist or not, or whether someone is part of 'the media'. Instead of asking whether you're a 'reporter', we'll instead wonder what kind you are? Are you the kind with a soapbox and a megaphone or are you the kind with a table and an open chair?
Traditional media has given new media a backbone, while new media has provided traditional media with dialogue.
What factors might come into play in any eventual alignment between "journalists" and "citizen journalists"?
People are increasingly trusting 'the crowd' rather than experts. Now, before people go the movies, they check Rotten Tomatoes before the newspaper critics. When they buy a book, they read Amazon reviews. And, most importantly, when news breaks they first hear it from their peers. Look at the recent Virginia earthquake or the revolutions throughout the Middle East. Some people followed these events through television news, but many were absorbed in the grassroots reporting happening on Facebook and YouTube.
In the coming years, 'citizen journalists' will force traditional journalists to re-create themselves. No longer will the professional journalist center his work around 'the scoop.' In most cases, there's just no way he's going to break a story before it hits Twitter and Facebook. He needs to instead turn his focus toward quality and in-depth reporting. Most traditional journalists are talented writers and clear thinkers. Those skills—not quick, breaking stories—will set them apart from 'citizen journalists.'