Will Google Wave Transform Journalism?

 The verdict on Google Wave is still out, which is fair given the fact that it is not only in beta, but is in very limited distribution.  

I have been using Google Wave on a few projects, some of which have dragged due to my own time constraints.  On one collaborative project in particular, I am working with colleagues in London and in New York.  We are working on a joint presentation.  I was able to put into the wave a discussion about each and every section.  On Friday, we were discussing them all simultaneously within a wave.  The wave has the outline and timeline, and the sections of the powerpoint are all being loaded into the various sections.  It is like watching a ship being built, and I have to say, it is pretty neat.  That said, there are a lot of bugs that need stepping on along the way, many of which I'm sure Google will fumigate.

People are skeptical of new media.  Any of you who have heard me speak on the subject will know that I like to remind people that everyone thought that television was a doomed medium that could never really compete with radio.  It took 25 years, but television took root and people managed quite nicely to adapt.

But just as television transformed journalism, it is worth exploring whether social media in general, and Wave in particular, might not just transform journalism in a way that has a big impact on the way we get news, on the way news is written, on how reporters work and on just a heck of a lot of other levels.

Recently the Los Angeles Times featured an insightful piece on how Wave might impact journalism. One would do well to study it, because it provides some interesting food for thought, particularly about collaborative journalism.  One of the possibilities that the LA Times piece suggests is the idea of commenting on news as you read it.  

Enter the Chicago Tribune's Redeye  blog which begins waves on news topics and allows readers to comment.  I participated in one about the Tiger Woods story because I do a lot of crisis communications counseling.  That is interesting and cutting edge stuff – the Wave, not my work. (Though I like to think my work is also cutting edge.) The Redeye blog effort is an early manifestation of using Wave in journalism before Wave has even launched.  Remarkable.  

One thing I want to suggest – the Wave press conference.  The first brave politician to hold a press conference by Wave will indeed be interesting.  But it doesn't have to be a politician.  Anyone will be able to invite top tier reporters into a Wave to ask questions about a particular topic, and then be prepared to respond to questions with video, pictures, documents and links that can be dragged into the Wave.  

Wave stands to transform journalism in so many ways, many of which I haven't thought of yet, but which sends a very strong signal to all stakeholders – including those who wish to make news and those who want to write it.  It might not be Google Wave that changes journalism, but social media most certainly has.  It would be wise for all stakeholders, including the FDA, to get a grip of that fact and to catch up.  Things are moving quickly, more so than anyone thought.  This isn't going to take as much time as television did to make an impact.  Time is more compressed.  The FDA may not get it, as evidenced by the FDA's anemic response to social media, but journalism, and those of us who work with journalists, cannot afford such complacency.   Better wake up and take notice.  There is lots to prepare for that goes way beyond anything considered in the FDA's Part 15 Meeting on Social Media.  

And oh yeah, to the first 20 top tier journalists who are not on Google Wave yet, if you email me directly at mark.senak@gmail.com, I'll send you an invite to Google Wave and I will provide a free tutorial on Google Wave for all the journalists who enlist.  


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