Georgia Tech Guides the Future of Journalism
Posted Mar 04, 2013 | Atlanta, GA
In the past decade, newspaper readers have been inundated with stories about how print journalism is dying. These stories are often written with a panicked tone, and detail how there is no longer money to be made in the journalism business. And yet, they often fail to mention the increasing strides in quality and organization that journalists have made in the digital realm. From content gathering to distribution models, online journalists are paving the way for an exciting new integration of old and new methods of presenting the news.
It’s the topic of emerging integration that will be the focus at this week’s Computation + Journalism symposium, which runs from January 31st to February 1st. The Symposium will see speakers from both the academic and journalism worlds come together to discuss how computation has affected the world of news, and where it is going in the future. Topics will include how to incorporate big data into the process of journalism, new methods of distributing the news, and the use of social media in news gathering.
Irfan Essa, a Professor at Georgia Tech, is considered on the forefront of studying how computation has affected journalists. He has coined the phrase “computational journalism” to describe the exciting new field of study, and is one of the organizers of the Computation + Journalism symposium. “Computational Journalism describes the impact of modern computational methods and tools on the field of journalism,” says Professor Essa. He describes how people can now receive their news on a wide variety of computing platforms – mobile devices, laptops, or desktops – and computational journalism studies, “how journalism can be packaged and distributed most effectively for the purpose of civic engagement”.
Professor Essa was quick to emphasize that computational journalism does not mean the end of the traditional journalist. “This is about a dialogue between journalists and technologists, “says Dr. Essa. “Historically, there has been doom and gloom about every technological change,” he says. “Nothing is going to go away, but evolution is important.”
This is the second such symposium that Georgia Tech has held, the last being in 2008. Essa says that much has changed in the past five years for computational journalism. “Twitter just was not a big thing in 2008,” and now it is a large part of the journalistic process. “Most people understand that it has changed the field.” Further, display technologies are changing so that a journalist must keep up with a reader’s expectations for how they can interact with information.
Due to the work of Professor Essa, and many others at Georgia Tech, he believes that the Institute is a leader in the field of computational journalism. “Georgia Tech is really interested in technology, but also the role of the developers and consumers of technology.” The Institute focuses a great deal on Human-Computer Interaction, and building technology with a human focus. According to Dr. Essa, despite not having a journalism department, their dedication to human-centered computing makes Georgia Tech a natural sponsor for the study of computational journalism.
Georgia Tech's Institute for People and Technology (IPaT) connects industry, government and nonprofit leaders with Georgia Tech’s world-class researchers and innovations to transform media, health, education, and humanitarian systems. IPaT integrates academic and applied research through living laboratories and multidisciplinary projects to deliver real-world, novel solutions that balance the needs of people with the possibilities of new technologies. For more information about IPaT visit www.ipat.gatech.edu