How Is The Internet Affecting Journalism?

Is the internet shaping journalism? Yes I believe it is.

The internet is unique, extraordinarily powerful, and, lets be honest, a great form of distraction too! Seriously though, it provides journalists with the ability to contact people anytime, anyplace and anywhere. They can interact immediately with fellow journalists and readers all over the world. It is allowing for `networked journalism`, where the professionals and amateurs are coming together to report a story.

Excuse me if I sound too political here, but the internet is a hugely positive resource for our democratic society because it is allowing people to interact and engage with one another on an unprecedented scale.

I can almost hear the rip-roaring sound of the professionals screaming at me that it is not such a great thing after all and I agree. There are indeed some downsides. A startling feeling is etched inside me, continually making me ask myself the question- What if mainstream journalism continues to decline and all we have left is UGC?

How can the mass of amateurs online ever hope to mirror the ability of those with years experience in the news industry? Will they be as willing as professionals to do the hard work of investigative journalism? How can we ensure that the information we read is credible and accurate? These are the questions which must be answered before we even confront the horrifying possibility that it will not be democratic at all. What if the news is simply produced by those with the confidence and articulacy to report it, leaving behind a mass of unheard voices?

In a certain sense, journalists should not be worried. The fundamental need to report the news will remain a constant. It will not change. People everywhere are still going to want their daily fix of news. What the internet is allowing however, is for that news to be produced by those people other than the qualified, and so the media unfortunately has no choice but to adapt to what is happening and must realize as soon as possible that the relationship between themselves and their readers is undergoing a permanent transformation. The internet is doubtlessly posing a major challenge to the monopoly which journalists once held as conveyors of news.

To reiterate, a world with no professional journalists is an alarming thought but the trend is clearly moving journalism into becoming a more participatory media. Sites like Wikipedia prove that access to information and the ability to publish is no longer confined to the privilege of the few journalists out there. Journalism is now a job open to the masses, as proved by YouTube which shows just how many people can produce and publish content. This is a popular alternative to the confined world of text which print journalists offer.

The internet is making journalism a two-way conversation and skeptical journalists (myself included) have to join in with this conversation because the public are going to be talking for a long time yet….

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