By Melissa Proulx, Staff Writer
When it comes to the shifting of traditional journalism in the digital age, Megan Specia, a University of New Hampshire ’09 alumnus and assistant real-time editor for Mashable, only shared a positive outlook during her Tuesday talk: “Redefining Real Time Journalism in the Digital Age.”
“We no longer live in a world where journalism is defined by the media it’s encased in,” Specia said during her talk.
Specia, who graduated with a double major in communication and journalism, spoke for an hour at the public event to a crowd of students and faculty which filled Mub Theater I to half its seat capacity.
Much of Specia’s information came from her personal experience. Having lived as a freelancer and waitress in Ireland for a couple of years, Specia eventually joined the small, 10 person team of Storyful, a Dublin based startup which was created in 2009. The group specialized in user-generated and social media content verification.
“Little did I know when I first started … that I was getting in on the ground floor of a revolution,” Specia said.
From there, Specia moved on to Mashable, a New York City based digital media website which is “a leading source for news, information [and] resources for the Connected Generation,” according to its website. In her new position at Mashable, Specia is able to write stories through user-generated content and her own field work.
Both of these jobs, she said, were examples of a new form of journalism that has been carving itself out of the new environment and examples of “real time news reporting.” This newfound setting is, as Specia describes, like the “Wild West,” “where everything goes and nearly nothing is off limits.”
For example, Specia told the audience how she was able to report many of the tense situations in places such as Syria through content from YouTube and Twitter which she and her team were able to verify.
But despite this flexible, free space in which the field now resides, some things remain the same.
“Good journalism and good journalists are always in demand,” Specia said. “The value is in getting as close to the story as possible.”
After the talk was over, Specia answered nearly a dozen questions from audience members about the field’s present and future.
“It’s a risky career, but in the best way possible,” she said.
The talk, which was hosted by the English department, attracted a variety of journalism students and faculty, though they were not the only ones.
Allie Farren, a junior communications major, said she plans to use the talk to help write one of the papers for her class for extra credit.
“I really liked it,” Farren said. “A lot of the stuff she’s saying is a lot like what I’ve been learning in my classes.”
Emmet Todd, who heard about the talk through word of mouth, is currently a sophomore earth science major. However, Todd said that he has been toying with the idea of switching his major to journalism and that Specia’s presentation helped to peak his interest.
“What stuck out to me is that journalism as a major isn’t a concrete, set path,” Todd said.
Specia’s talk was put on by the English department of the University of New Hampshire as a part of the Donald J. Murray Visiting Journalist program. The program was started in order to bring alumnis of the program back to campus to journalist with students and give them insight into the field.
The program is named after Donald J. Murray, who brought the journalism program to campus in 1963.
More information about Specia and the past journalists who have participated in the program can be found at http://cola.unh.edu/english/program/englishjournalism-ba/visiting-journalist-program.