The Internet and Journalism…Two Peas in a Pod

Do you really believe professional journalism is under threat from how easy the internet is making it to publish? Is the continuing evolution of the media and the internet damaging my journalism career before it has even begun? I’m not so sure.

Lets take the music industry as an example. Manufacturers of CDs have a good case for stating that they no longer have a safe career. In their eyes, music is in trouble. Wrong.

Looking at music through the eyes of iTunes, one would see music is alive and well, perhaps more so than ever (though the counter culturists of the 1960s would slam me down here and say Woodstock represented music at its most vibrant).itunes

The point I’m trying to make is from the perspective of a listener,  iTunes is making access to music easier than it has ever been before. A song is simply a download away. Doesn’t this story hold true in Journalism as well? The laptop replaced the printing press. Letters to the editor once had a prominent place in newspapers. Not anymore. Forums,  blogs and interactivity are the new kids on the block and they intend to hang around. Journalism is thriving, not going down the pan.

So why is networked journalism so great? Well, all links created by journalists are brought together to establish the most important, interesting and newsworthy ones.  Readers don’t have to trawl through dozens of articles to find the information they want. Journalists are providing a link that will hopefully take the reader right where they want to be.

Need a simple explanation? Every time a reader clicks on a link, it gets one vote. The stories with the most votes rise to the top.

When you are on Google’s result page what you are seeing is links, links and more links. But the best ones.

Convinced? I’m starting to be. The internet is refocusing journalism so that the professionals are putting their readers first.  Michael Rosenblum, often referred to as the `Father of Video Journalism`, said at the Society of Editors Conference that all journalists are “shit scared” of change, even saying that when the internet first came into their offices everyone was desperate for it to get straight back out of there. But now journalists should be eternally thankful for it because it has allowed the journalism industry to re-connect with its audience. Just like iTunes allows music fans to select a song here and there from an artist instead of having to buy the whole album, readers can now pick and choose the stories they want.

The latter parts of his speech were equally engaging.

Technological updates are inevitable. The purpose of technology is not to destroy journalism; it wants to improve it. Journalists must embrace this because without technology a journalist has next to nothing to work with.

We must be cautious however. Sometimes the internet, especially blogs, is dangerous when it comes to providing news, as shown when the identities of the Mother and Stepfather of Baby P were posted on the internet. The thorough checking and editing of a newspaper means that 99.9% of the time, this would never be allowed to happen. But with no sub-editor clocking their every move, bloggers have no restriction on what they can write. Newspapers may be becoming old fashioned, but I remain a traditionalist and trust news which is accounted for.

Journalists have a great opportunity here and should not let it slip by because of fears over what technology is doing to their business. They need to stop pointing fingers at things which could ruin them. Instead they need to embrace technology and get their heads around the possibility that technology could, and in fact has, enhanced the practice of journalism  far beyond what was ever possible in the days of the printing press.  If they don’t come to terms with the changes that have taken place they may end up being their own downfall.


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