Q&A with Dr. Nee

by Leonardo Castaneda

As part of our coverage of the current and former sate of journalism in San Diego, The Daily Aztec interviewed journalism assistant professor Rebecca Coates Nee, Ed.D. Here, she shares her thoughts about the future of independent publications in San Diego and the role of social media in journalism.

The Daily Aztec: Do you think small and independent publications in San Diego are doing enough to adapt to online and mobile media?

Dr. Rebecca Coates Nee: This isn’t something I have really studied, but I think smaller, niche publications do not have to spread themselves all over digital and mobile media to be effective. They already have an established following and we have seen niche publications do well in this environment because they aren’t trying to be an all encompassing news source for everyone. Social media can be a benefit for smaller organizations because it is an inexpensive way to communicate with the public. From what I’ve seen, many staff members of the independent publi- cations, particularly City Beat, are quite active and effective on social media.

DA: Do you think the transition from print to online journalism will benefit or hurt small local publications?

RCN: I don’t know what their advertising revenue looks like. Remember,the down economy has negatively impacted all advertisers, so the move to digital isn’t the only reason advertisers are cutting back. Some research I’ve seen, however, has shown that weekly publications, which are targeted to a specific community, are still doing well. Their costs are lower than traditional dailies and they have a more focused mission and loyal audience, so they don’t have to spread their resources too thin.

DA: What will the role of mobile media be in the future of small and independent publications?

RCN: I’m not sure. While an increasing number of people are getting their news through mobile devices (Pew has some new stats on that), I just don’t see a need for small or independent publications to go out and spend money on creating their own app. Mobile is great for getting information on breaking news and events and finding stories by links through social media. But once a week, it is nice to sit down with a paper…I do think the San Diego media market is strong because we have independent weeklies, plus a very active nonprofit news sector: KPBS, Voice of San Diego and the Investigative Newsource. Each of those outlets is performing public service journalism while using digital and social media in innovative ways. San Diego is fortunate to have their contributions alongside the more traditional forms of media.