Like wine from a box: a modern journalist’s tale

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I work in a highly-connected world. My day consists of interviewing people (sometimes via email); writing news articles, features and blogs; pushing those news articles, features and blogs into publishing software; tweeting, retweeting, and sometimes even retweeting a tweet I’ve just tweeted from my other Twitter account (I’ve been known to get anxiety when my Tweet Deck is down); emailing via Outlook, Yahoo, Hotmail and my new, second Yahoo account; updating social networking sites; approving blog comments and responding to others; making my own comments to various industry blogs; speaking with people who want my comment (egads); pushing my stories to Twitter and FaceBook – and now my new FaceBook fan page (of which I have just become a fan…sick?); manning the ‘Runway Girl Mary Kirby’ YouTube channel; and sending pictures from my iPhone to my email accounts for blogging/tweeting/facebooking purposes.

This is my new reality.

This is unlike the reality I had in early 2007, before the blog, before Twitter and before the social media explosion well really and truly took hold (but after my experiment with MySpace, interestingly). Before my mom joined FaceBook. Before I became ‘friends’ with nearly every kid who made fun of me in Junior High. Before I had a laptop, camera, blackberry, iPhone and all accompanying cords attached to my person at every single conference, air show or interview I attend.

Today, after learning that a prominent news agency was writing third hand, unconfirmed information about him, a friend of mine said: “Journalism as I learned it appears to be dead. Conjecture is not fact, even three steps removed.”

I don’t believe that journalism is dead per se (I can’t. I’m a journalist, who takes pride in working for a magazine and online news agency that still believe in good journalism. Okay, I’m a journa-blogger. A blogarist?).

But journalism has definitely changed – dramatically. It is changing by the second. Some of that change is good; some bad (a valid conversation for another time).

Journalists are no longer simply responsible for writing a story in a Word document and sending it to off to editors and copy editors for a good sprucing up.

We are no longer part of the machine as much as we are the machine. (And yet, I don’t doubt that machines can be replaced by other, more agile, more tech-savvy, more prolific machines.)

Sometimes, when you’re part of that machine you lose sight of the fact that not everybody lives this way (not yet). Sometimes it takes another friend to point out that, for every Mary Kirby armed with multiple connected devices, twit-pic-ing an iPhone photo of an aircraft; there are many more people with antiquated telephones and aged computers, and grannies who haven’t learned how to Skype let alone flown in an aircraft.

Last summer I took a little holiday with my daughter, my college friend and her children to Bethany Beach, Delaware. At a crab house near a Holiday Inn (which was advertising the fact that it is located a stone’s throw away from a drug store), my friend showed me her phone (above pic). Look past the little, crab-covered hands and you’ll see a working cell phone, hanging on – literally- by a thread.

It reminded me that not everyone walks around with state-of-the-art communication devices. Not everyone is on FaceBook, Twitter, blogs, FriendFeed, YouTube, Email, and myriad other software applications all day long.

And yet, they are still getting by. They are still staying connected.

But, unless they belong to the last vestige of ‘traditional’ scribes, they are probably not modern journalists.

Welcome to the new world of publishing. It’s like drinking wine from a bag (in a box). It might take some getting used to. It might not always be perfectly suited to your tastes. BUT it still tastes pretty alright. It’s not pretentious. And everyone is welcome to a glass.

If you’d like to take a sip, join me on Twitter (@runwaygirl @marybkirby), on FaceBook (Runway Girl fan page), on YouTube (RunwayGirlMaryKirby channel), via email ( is best), or here, at the Runway Girl blog, where I largely focus on in-flight entertainment and connectivity.

Because if you feel connected now, you ain’t felt nothing until you’ve connected in-flight.   

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13 Responses to Like wine from a box: a modern journalist’s tale

  1. Auduboner January 5, 2010 at 1:58 am #

    The bag… comes OUT of the box?!?

  2. Oussama January 5, 2010 at 8:31 am #

    Mind boggling but the way of the present and definitely the future. However, if the events of the end of 2009 are an indication then connectivity in flight may be in jeopardy as security concerns override the new wave of journalism and indeed to many life style.
    Hopefully, common sense will prevail.

  3. Mary Kirby January 5, 2010 at 8:37 am #

    Oh yes. It is essential to remove the bag from the box if you want to squeeze the last few drops out of it :)

  4. Paulo M (Johannesburg, RSA) January 5, 2010 at 10:55 am #

    One of my new year resolutions was less time online – just spent the day on Twitter following aero news, posted to the Seattle PI a few times, checked out Fleetbuzz – pretty concerned for someone not involved in aerospace. Checked friends on Facebook.

    I’m posting here thanks to the Nimbuzz twitter client for a Nokia N95, operating on a E90. The E90 version is unstable – crashes often.

    I was going to ask about that wine – it’s illegal to sell wine in a bag without the box in South Africa.

  5. Uwe January 5, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    Last drop? Easier to take from a real bottle.
    And it is less obvious you’ve imbibed it all.

    Do you think this newborne intensive care
    attention culture will survive for a reasonable
    timeframe and/or morph into something less
    timeconsuming and more informative?

    Currently my impression is that facebook, twitter,
    and friends are addictive tamagotchis clamoring
    for a center stage place in ones life.

  6. Mary Kirby January 5, 2010 at 12:07 pm #

    I should state for the record that I’m not adverse to the bottled kind (ahem).

    To your question – I don’t believe this “newborne intensive care attention culture” has yet run its course (not by a long shot).

    There are now clear examples of how social networking is driving some of the news. Some of the biggest agencies in the world are seeing themselves scooped time and again by bloggers, twitterers, etc. Many are in what can only be described as “reactionary” mode, pushing out news stories about events that have already been discussed – at great length – on social networking sites.

  7. MLeao January 5, 2010 at 12:15 pm #

    Life is just too short to drink bad wine, no matter where it comes from :)

  8. Uwe January 5, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    Being a reasonably old fart i’m more into
    net news and email lists. their asyncness
    fits my leanings better.
    And most sites that allow commentary have
    terrible threading models ( and slashdot
    had it freely available for useing for
    ages. so there is no valid fib why this
    can’t work elsewhere )

    on dead tree media:
    The smaller ( and some bigger ) papers here
    (Germany) are really going feral these days.
    Nothing that could be called investigative
    and lots of “strategic communication” with
    a heavy slant towards the conservative side.

    Editorials are full of “bad bad pirating
    internet” essays.


  9. John Keenan January 6, 2010 at 5:39 am #

    Good points Mary – but alongside the new connectivity skills, journos still need the traditional attributes outlined by Nicholas Tomalin years ago: a plausible manner, a little literary ability, and rat-like cunning.

    Great blog, btw.
    John Keenan

  10. Mary Kirby January 6, 2010 at 8:01 am #

    Rat-like cunning – that’s good stuff :)

    Thank you!

  11. Andre van Loon January 6, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

    Yes, interesting post. Though not sure if the impression I’m left with is one of admiration for this new hyper-connected world and the people who work in it, or apprehension and alienation. It can start to sound rather unattractive to work as part of a machine.

    And, no offence intended, drinking wine from a box is just not on past student years or barbecues :)

  12. Mary Kirby January 6, 2010 at 1:43 pm #

    But have you tried Black Box Wine? It’s actually rather good :)

    [On an aside, I understand your concern. However, the social media explosion is like a freight train right now. I don't see it stopping. Do you?]

  13. holiday homes Uk May 6, 2010 at 6:49 am #

    Good post, thanks