By: Amy Stansbury
In a place like Gettysburg, it is difficult to escape the spectre of nostalgia. It hangs throughout the town, in its buildings, on its streets, and in its decor. For visitors, it becomes impossible not to stop and think about the historic events that transpired there.
For Steve Buttry, director of community engagement and social media at Digital First Media, the effect was similar.
In his keynote speech at the Keystone Press Awards Banquet, Buttry began by recalling Abraham’s Lincoln famed Gettysburg address, but that is where he broke with the past. Instead of delving into a long winded account of the history of journalism, Buttry channeled Lincoln’s skill in the art of brevety using modern day technology — twitter, the ultimate fan of the succinct sentence.
His first tweet of the night?
In transmitting this to the audience, Buttry reminded them, “that the things that make us proud of our profession can still make us proud of digital journalism.”
Throughout Buttry’s career he has seen many changes in technology that have changed the way news is produced, but that has not stopped the craft from living on. In his second tweet he wrote:
“The first paper that I ever had a biline in died in 1993,” admited Buttry. “I worked for the Kansas City News when that died in 1990. All of these papers died before the world wide web.”
An ever-changing world has not managed to kill journalism yet, and there is no reason that it should do so now, unless newsrooms refuse to adapt, explains Buttry. He tweeted on the subject:
One early pioneer of such experimentation and risk was Johannes Gutenberg, propogator of the printing press. In looking back on Gutenberg’s time, it is easy to think that he was responsible for killing the illuminated manuscript, or the bibles that prevailed before movable type. But, as Buttry pointed out, the illuminated manuscript was not the product. It was the word of God that was the real message. The same is true today.
“Our product is not the newspaper,” said Buttry. “It is the news.”
This brought Buttry to yet another tweet.
Of course, no speech delivered via twitter would be complete without a comment on the importance of this social media tool.
“If you are not on Twitter you are missing out,” said Buttry, who explained that Twitter is so useful because it allows journalists to connect with the people they serve.
“Stop worrying about the future of print newspapers,” said Buttry. “Concentrate on engaging the community.”