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Sci-Tech

January 28, 2016
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Facebook likely be the publisher of everything, says Prof Craig Duff

Facebook likely be the publisher of everything, says Prof Craig Duff

The News International got an opportunity to have a Q & A with Prof Craig Duff - an award-winning video journalist and television documentary director, producer and writer, specializing in multi-platform storytelling and solo journalism.

Duff was the director of multimedia and chief video journalist for TIME, where he oversaw video and other multimedia projects for the magazine’s digital platforms and TIME.com.

He is the focal person on a US-funded project to establish a journalism school at the IBA in partnership with Medill and the ICFJ.

What prospects moved Medill to partner with a Pakistani institution to establish a world class journalism institute? How did you become part of it?

Dr. Lawrence Pintak, who is founding dean of “The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication” at Washington State University was based in Cairo some years ago running a centre very similar to what we’re building here called the “Kamal Adham Center for Journalism Training and Research” at The American University. Larry worked to sort out and gauge the needs and interests of journalists and editors and media corporations here, and what the issues are and what was needed for training under a US funded project for establishing a journalism school. Then we bid on the project and were chosen for the grant. So I knew that was happening and when the ICFJ wanted to bid on it they needed to find a partner school so they called me because I knew everybody basically in the whole chain. I had worked with Larry in Cairo at the Adham Centre, and I got involved in this because I know the people who wrote the proposal for the US government.

What’s the structure of CEJ-Medill partnership; can we say that CEJ would be a replica of Medill?

We are really trying to create something more permanent so our people won’t be involved and we’re going to help train people who will carry it forward. So we’re hoping that some people will come through our programme in Chicago after that we’ll train those folks and they’ll come and be the faculty.

You have conducted a successful training session with local journalists; what’s your observation?

My only experience was the two-week “Backpack/Mobile Multimedia Training” course back in October 2014 and I think this was the most rewarding international training experience I’ve ever had. Everyone who has come back from teaching here has had an extraordinary experience and the key things they say are the eagerness among the people who are attending to learn, to think differently about journalism. Our impact is only measured by what happens once we leave if people apply what they’ve learned and started doing it. And it’s great when you see that happening. The institute is going to have the facility that will have a working studio and editing facilities so they’ll be able to train pretty much any technology here.

What are the dos and don’ts for a journalist?

In television we don’t set anything up, you don’t ask someone to repeat something so you can get a shot of it; when you try to be in a place where things are happening and you get the shot but you don’t say ‘could you fire that rifle again please so I can get a better shot or I can get a better angle’. We try not to stage things. But that is pretty common in TV here.
You have to be honest with your audience.

How do you think electronic media has impacted the print media?

Now, the newspaper has to figure out ways to serve their readers what they’ve already heard the news on TV. They have to think of different ways of telling stories and giving something else, something extra - an analysis or a context to the story.

You arranged a student exchange program last year, how do you think such exchanges are going to bring professionals closer?

I think any time two people from two cultures get together and work together you are going to have something interesting happen and people will learn from each other. That’s always good.

In today’s world, technology is changing the way we consume media; where are we heading?

Just look at the amount of change that has happened over your lifetime in terms of how things were produced. It is extraordinary for me to think that I can shoot something on mobile, edit it and bring it on my laptop. Pace of things happening is so much faster in the past two years that who is to say that in five years what we will be doing.

Right now the big emphasis in news has really been about this (mobile) device, not necessarily to record news but to play it or to view it. And mobile is basically is how a lot of us in the west are getting our news now – we are all getting hunched now sort of watching this thing all the time. So social media is driving it, so that is a huge change in the past few years as away from the web to mobile and now mobile is the big focus. Who is to say what is going to happen next? It’s probably going to be something portable and something very easy for someone to see – but it has changed our habits of how we consume news. I would say the web page homepage doesn’t matter anymore for the New York Times or Times magazine because no one goes there, Facebook is the new homepage.
Earlier, journalists acted as watchdog and decide what should masses know but now with growing influence of reader’s feedback we are witnessing a reverse trend and journalists now focus on what people want to read

It’s sort of a double-edged sword because it is great to have feedback and you understand where the viewers are reading by their comments. I think the watchdog role (of media) is the very bedrock of journalism that we are there to serve a purpose to keep those in power from doing crazy things or to at least make sure that there is a check on power and it’s a vital role.

Social media companies are taking over the publisher’s space and business too, how it’s going to affect media outlets?

Facebook I think will like to be the publisher of everything and be the only source of where people get stuff. So software companies are trying to become the new publishers and they have a lot of power as they have the audience. They’ve already got partnerships with NY Times and National Geographic and some others to publish directly. And we’ll see where that goes. The thing is that Facebook is only 12 years old who is to say in five years this is going to be the biggest technology or software or whatever company surges ahead of them.

Twitter: @Wasifshakil

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