VIRGINIA BUTLER has been in the news business as an anchor/reporter/producer for 35 long and challenging years. She is currently Digital Studio Director at the Democrat and Chronicle (D&C), Rochester, New York, USA. The D&C us the first Gannett property with a studio of this kind. She is responsible for overseeing all studio productions for news and advertising. She has been in this position for 17 months. From 1990 to June 2016, she was morning news anchor/reporter at GRZ 9, R News (the first 24 hour local news cable news channel in the U.S.), YNN, TWCNews. The cable channel changed names over time as you can see. Earlier, she was anchor/reporter/producer at WVIR TV in Charlottesville Va and later she was 6pm and 11pm anchor reporter at WROC TV in Rochester.
Butler speaks about the future of news media in an exclusive interview to TERESA REHMAN, the Managing Editor of The Thumb Print
1. How do you see the transition from traditional media to new/digital media?
I see it as another step in the evolution of mass media. The pace of that evolution has accelerated significantly. Tremendous technological changes over the last three decades that have changed how we gather information and how we interact with the world.
2. Do you think digital media will take over in the coming years?
It dominates even today. Take over? Hard to tell.
3. Do you think a day will come when newspapers will stop printing?
Newspapers were supposed to die many times during the evolution of mass communication/media; radio, TV, internet and all of the devices that deliver it. I believe digital media will dominate into the future but I am not sure that all newspapers will stop printing. It’s funny, but when technology ages, a subgroup of users tend to make it popular again — for instance, vinyl records are back and an integral part of the music industry. I saw vinyl marketed at a concert recently featuring a 20-something band. Their audience was high school and college age and they were buying up that vinyl!
4. How do you think the fast moving digital media tackle the menace of fake news?
Fast moving digital media is creating some of the fake news or slanted news. Speed is part of the problem right? In the quest to be first sometimes even mainstream “trusted” news sources don’t do their due diligence and fact checking. I can only speak for the Democrat and Chronicle. Our journalists put accuracy over speed. And we have to triple check EVERYTHING! It’s our responsibility to make sure that we are delivering the facts to our consumers.
5. Where do you see the future of news?
As long as the first amendment stands, it is the job of news organizations to shine a light, seek the facts mercilessly, remain unbiased, inform the public. I have a hard time imagining that changing. I hope journalists continue to provide depth in their reporting. Consumers demand speed. I hope consumers in the future will be willing to take the time to be truly informed.
6. What would you prefer — slow-paced news or something that goes viral within seconds?
I prefer accurate and unbiased news!