Meet Luke O'Neill (@lukeoneill). Journalist and well, easily one of the most interesting people to follow on Twitter. Before this interview, I knew very little, okay honestly, nothing about him. However, after following him on Twitter post our small introduction, I quickly learned heaps about journalism and even more about Social Media's role in modern day journalism. What I received in the form of answers to my questions, was advice and words of wisdom that we, as budding writers, could definitely use. Take a read. Oh and I suggest you follow him on Twitter...now! Okay, now seriously, read.
When did you realize that you wanted to be a journalist?
Probably in the summer of 2006. I was nearing the end of a Bachelors Degree in Journalism at Dublin City University and at that time had the opportunity to work as an intern at the Irish Times. I broke a couple of my own stories as a newsroom reporter, after developing a good relationship with sources across the government spectrum. I suppose that initial taste of adventure, public service and luck drew me in.
What steps did you take in order for you achieve your writing goals?
I wrote for whoever I could wherever I could, often for free. I treated the littlest and largest subjects with the same respect and hoped I would get noticed. (I’m still doing this).
How did you decide which type of writing you wanted to partake in?
Like most graduate journalists, I did not have the luxury of picking and choosing. You go wherever the work is and hope eventually to end up where you want to be through a mix of luck and perseverance. I’ve emigrated twice to find work in journalism: first to London and then to Sydney.
What has changed over the period of time that you have been writing?
Good writing is becoming scarcer and less appreciated. Journalists, myself included, are still learning that there is a difference between writing for print and new media.
Is blogging, in your opinion, journalism?
This is a recurring and oft misphrased question. Blogging is a platform. It depends what a person does with it. If someone is using a blog to source, verify, report, analyse and dissect information, then sure, blogging is journalism. The phoney bloggers-versus-journalists war doesn’t interest me. We can all work together as part of community that curates, collects and breaks new information.
What are some blogs you personally choose to follow?
Jeff Jarvis, The Failed Estate (see @mrdenmore), Jay Rosen and Storyful.
What is journalism’s place in Social Media today?
I believe it has a central place. PR and marketing professionals would have you think different. Our places within social media spaces is the same as it is within government, courts, crime: we’re there to report, cultivate contacts, debunk misinformation and bring the news to people who engage with it. What’s most important about our place in social media is engagement. Guess what? It’s okay to talk to readers.
Where do you see the future of journalism headed with regards to Social Media?
I wouldn’t be so bold to make a prediction on the ‘future of journalism’. I would hope that news organisations will, small and large, will begin to weave SM into the fabric of news. For examples of people moulding a potential future, see Storyful.com.
We’ve seen a decline in paper publications – especially newspapers. Is this a problem or a blessing?
It’s a problem for journalists who haven’t got new skills. It’s not a problem for the audience, they will go where the news is.
How does this change the idea of ethics in journalism? You need to act in as ethical a manner as before. I have noticed a tendency of media to take content form Twitter without attribution. If someone has taken a good photo or sourced good information (that can be verified thoroughly), then they deserve the credit.
Which is your preferred Social media platform and why?
I use Twitter most. I enjoy the interactions and it acts as a personal news wire.
How do you feel about journalists tweeting and learning about news via Twitter?
Do it or die. Honestly, if you’re not on it and using it you face professional detriment.
Who are your favorite people to follow on Twitter? There are many. In Australia, @Colvinius is excellent as is @garethoconnor in Ireland.
How has Social Media changed your work?
It’s broadened my network and led me to new sources and collaborators.
How do you see Social Media evolving in the future keeping your career in mind?
Well, it’s a new frontier for news. I wouldn’t discount the possibility of the paywall debate emerging for news-based Twitter accounts.