Hong Kong digital media consultant and South China Morning Post Digital Development Editor Stephen Quinn was part of a panel discussion on “Media Innovation and Future Trends in Asia, the Pacific and U.S.” on June 22, 2012, at the East-West Center’s International Media Conference in Seoul. The Australian-born Quinn took a moment at the conference to answer a few questions.
What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Transforming a print-focused company into thinking and acting digitally.
How has social media changed the way your newspaper covers China?
The editor of our China section tells me up to half of the stories they cover each day come from monitoring social media, especially Weibo, as a source of story ideas and trends. The main China bureau has two people who start at 6 am and do nothing but monitor social media and email ideas to other reporters.
Chinese people are actively looking for reliable information. They go online and onto social networks daily – partly, I suspect, because they do not necessarily trust the mainstream media. This explains the massive growth of social networks, with 300 million active Sina Weibo users. Consumers in China have many sources of information but little clarity. People go online for information so they can make decisions in their lives.
One complaint often heard from reporters today is that in addition to writing text articles, they need to blog, tweet and shoot video. As someone who teaches mobile reporting to journalists, what is your take on that? Is it the future of journalism?
Not everyone is required to multi-task. My paper does not require people to tweet or blog; it is voluntary. We have dedicated video reporters. Sometimes we ask reporters, at the end of an interview, to take a mugshot of the person they interview with their mobile phone and email it back to the office. The future of journalism is a big question. A likely scenario is smaller staff at mainstream media, and a lot more use of freelance material.
— Reporting by Regina Wang, Missouri School of Journalism