Leaven Blog

Technology advances but the story never changes

by Joe Bollig

Thanks to social media and Internet technology, all the excitement and challenges of World Youth Day 2016 in Poland experienced by the 109 archdiocesan pilgrims are available to their family and friends back home.

There’s no more “I wonder what they’re up to” now. The pilgrims have been sending plenty of tweets, texts, photos and videos — often in real time.

The Leaven’s own Katie Hyde and Joe McSorley — and others — have been sending lots of content to The Leaven’s Facebook page. If you want to see some great World Youth Day coverage, go to the page.

It wasn’t that way when I went to my first and only World Youth Day in 2002 in Toronto 14 years ago.

The Leaven was still taking baby steps with various new technologies. We had a basic website in the mid-1990s, and a subscription to America On Line (ask your grandparents). We began using our first digital camera in 2000, but still relied heavily on film photography. I can’t even remember when we sent or received our first digital photo by email.

I remember walking through the press center at WYD Toronto and enviously looking at the rows and rows of “big time” journalists writing stories on their laptops and sending them to their editors by email.

The real game changers have been smart phones, wireless technology and social media. These tools not only make it easier to create content, but also to distribute it.

The first social media network was Sixdegrees in 1997. More soon followed: Friendster in 2002, Facebook 2004, MySpace in 2005, Twitter in 2006, and Tumblr in 2007.

Back in 2002 our job was to tell our readers what happened. Now, our job is to tell our readers what’s happening AND what happened.

Attention spans are getting shorter, and people are becoming less word oriented and more image and sound oriented. But no matter what the technology or technique, one thing is a constant: There has to be a storyteller. From the time of the flickering campfire to the steady glow of a screen, there is always someone who wants to know the story.

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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