New Media, New Journalism

Farai Chideya talks about the revolution in digital reporting.     By Virginia Van de Wall ’12

“I believe that dealing with the news, as messy and problematic as it is, is one of the great journeys we have in modern society,” Farai Chideya says to a room full of Ithaca College students, faculty, and staff.

Working 20 years in the journalism industry, Chideya began her career writing for Newsweek magazine and later hosting NPR’s News and Notes, a daily national program about African American and African diaspora issues. One of the earliest to recognize the power of blogging, Chideya has proved to be well versed in the ways of new media. Her 1995 pop culture blog,, continues to be the longest continuously operating blog in the world.

Brought to campus March 2 by the Park Center for Independent Media (PCIM), Chideya titled her talk “How Social Media and Citizen Journalism Are Changing the Media Terrain and the World,” which focused on the diversity of both age and race in news-rooms and social media’s impact on traditional media outlets.

Chideya explained that the issue with today’s news is that it serves to please the aging, once dominant group of “white baby-boomers.” She claims that in order for the news to succeed, it must appeal to younger, more diverse generations and people of color. In order to get through to these groups, Chideya says that the traditional way of reporting news must be tossed aside and the implication of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter should be considered. As today’s population of tech-savvy individuals increases, Chideya claims that multimedia journalism — the use of text, video, hyperlinks, audio, and visuals — is the only way to succeed.

“I foresee looking at entirely new ways of formatting information for the world where nothing is just video, or just text, or just image,” Chideya advises, “where nothing is just stand-alone but always has multifaceted interactive components.”

What are these components, and how can this idea of formatting new information be obtained? Chideya leaves that question yet to be answered.

Jeff Cohen, PCIM director and associate professor of journalism, says he has always been impressed with Chideya’s knowledge of how journalism can progress. “Farai was doing blogging before any of the rest of us knew what it was,” Cohen says. “She has looked at the media from so many different sides and has worked in the media in so many different places. She was the perfect guest speaker to tell students what’s going on in the media and how things are rapidly changing.”

Mary Apesos, a sophomore journalism major, found the lecture to be a breath of fresh air. “Finally someone has confronted the fact that in order for journalism to survive in the future, we need to have a plan,” she says. “As a person well versed in technology, [Chideya’s insights] can guide us as journalists.”