Thursday, January 15, 2009
UPI Reinvents Itself With New Generation of Students Online
KNOXVILLE, Tenn-- That "other" wire service-- the one that you heard about one day in school, but rarely saw- United Press International (UPI) is back!
As the Intercollegiate Online News Network (ICONN) is born this week here on the University of Tennessee campus, it appears an older journalism player is going through its own reincarnation. Tonight, we got a view of that as Michael Marshall, editor of UPI, shared a little bit of the vision for UPI-University, a major initiative of the soon-to-be 102-year-old news agency.
"We're finding a way to adjust our traditional values to a totally different environment," said Marshall, who plans to give more concrete details about UPI-U during his presentation tomorrow. "We're no longer a news agency in a traditional sense."
Today's college students are a big part of an effort by United Press International to shift the focus to more serious journalism.
As what Marshall termed 'a national and international showcase for young journalists," UPI-U is one way the agency is responding to respond to citizen journalism with news and information that is credible and reliable.
Formerly a news agency for afternoon newspapers, which began to go away in the 1980s with the proliferation of afternoon newscasts, UPI has been under serveral ownership changes before its purchase by News World Communications.
According to the mediaowners.com Web site, News World Comunications' owns the American news agency United Press International (UPI), acquired in 2000. Its flagship newspaper is the Washington Times, founded in 1982. Other newspapers published by News World include The Middle East Times (Egypt), Segye Ilbo (Korea) and Sekai Nippo (Japan). It also publishes magazines (Insight, The World & I, and Washington Golf Monthly).
The one thing that bothered me about Marshall's remarks tonight was his assumption that there's something wrong with Citizen Journalism.
"The problem with citizen journalism is the whole issue of credibility," said Marshall.
I don't happen to subscribe to the view that all or most citizen journalism is unreliable. Instead, I happen to believe that it is our role as journalists in 2009 to embrace the role that citizen journalists can have in our information gathering. Properly trained, they become our co-laborers in the practice.
What some have called the "pro-am" model of journalism is a cutting edge way to re-shape our view of citizen journalists.
To the extent possible, we should help those citizens who want to do journalism to know how to practice it in a ethical manner.
I hope we'll engage Marshall on this issue as we continue or deliberations and discussions tomorrow.