Speaker Q&A: Adam Tinworth, editorial development, RBI

In the latest of our Q&As we hear from Adam Tinworth, part of the editorial development team for Reed Business Information (RBI). You can find him on Twitter at @adders.

At news:rewired Adam will discuss his work as head of blogging for a magazine publisher and his efforts encouraging journalists to embrace social media tools in their work.

Tell us a bit about yourself – how did you get into the journalism industry?
Through a lack of courage. I wanted to be a photographer on the Imperial College London student newspaper Felix, but my courage failed me when I walked in, and I ended up squeaking that “I wanted to help”. I ended up being put on the reviews desk and falling in love with the profession. After university, I was too broke for a postgraduate course, and ended up getting a job on Publican writing about beer and drink brands. It was hell, I tell you, hell.

However, if I’d been paying attention to myself, I might have figured out my love of journalism earlier. I first published a magazine – a weekly newsletter for the kids on my street – when I was eight years old. I did the typing, photography and layout myself (on Mum’s typewriter) and then Dad photocopied it at work. Obsessions start young…

What has been the most challenging aspect of introducing journalists to social media for their work?
Convincing them that the change is coming (and is probably here now). Journalists, a breed noted for the curiosity and inquisitiveness, can often be hopelessly myopic and close-minded when it comes to their own profession. Even when they do come to believe it, they treat it with a deep suspicion, because, as a class of information “gatekeepers”, the expansion of publishing power to the public at large seems like a threat, or a dumbing down, rather than the opportunity it is.

What are some of the benefits social media can bring to journalists in your opinion?
Journalism has always been a social process: you talk to people, find stuff out, get confirmation, publish. Technology has allowed that process to become faster, more widespread and more pervasive. More than that – it frees journalists from their desks. The last great tech revolution in publishing – the rise of the PC and Desktop Publishing (when was the last time you heard the DTP acronym?) tied us to our desks. Laptops, mobiles and social media should free us from offices to get back into the field again.

One online tool you couldn’t live without for your work and why?
This is nearly impossible to answer. There are so many…

It’s a toss-up between my blog software, as it’s my publishing lifeline to the world. The ability to just open a web browser and publish something is a blessing I still celebrate most days, as does anyone who had to work with the early web-publishing CMSes. But Twitter has become just as important in recent years, as it’s become my major social “feed” of ideas, conversation and information. I’d probably still plump for the blog software (Movable Type in my case), but really, I need the pair working in concert.

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