Analyzing the Industry of Journalism
The Changing Face of Journalism
With the freedom offered by the internet, journalism has evolved into a very different field. Aspiring journalist and many other untrained citizens of society are now given the opportunity to create their own versions of news and make them available to the public. News organizations and professional journalism have had to change and adapt to how the internet has influenced how society expects to obtain its news. From various perspectives, all of these transformations can be viewed as beneficial but are also seen as reprehensible. Nonetheless, it is something that is happening now and so, despite the concerns of more seasoned journalists, these are changes that are simply impossible to stop.
One of the new “faces of journalism” is where newsgathering is done so that it can be disseminated in an online form. News, in its movement onto the internet, has become such an easily accessed entity that, paired with the economic crisis, it has caused many print publications to collapse. As the public becomes accustomed to accessing its news online, the desire to pay for print publications quickly wanes as that very same news can be accessed online for free. This evolution of news has directly affected the work of journalists employed by these institutions. They have been forced to adapt and those who can’t, or refuse to change, are left behind.
The surviving newsrooms are rapidly evolving to adjust to this new world of news broadcasting. The evolution is necessary now in a time where the public expects not only free but also immediate and unlimited access to its news. The biggest of changes undergone by the industry is the convergence of the news entities: print, radio, and television, and for these entities to establish an online presence.
Convergence has become a very popular and important term in the news world. Many news establishments, as a means to avoid their eminent demise, have combined so that, by working together, they can survive. A major benefit of convergence for the organizations themselves includes the ability to share resources, thus saving both time and money. Equipment can be shared between the combined organizations as well as the reporters themselves, thus allowing for less individuals out gathering news that would otherwise be reported by multiple journalists in multiple news forms.
The job description for a journalist use to come under various titles, such as that of a photojournalist, a t.v. broadcast reporter, or a newpaper journalist. Now, as a result of the media convergences, the daily responsibilities of these specific types of journalists have become completely altered. A reporter who used to dictate the news in front of a camera could be given the added responsibility of writing news pieces for their online publication. A writer whose job was solely to find and write stories for a paper might be given a camera and told to take still shots and video and to write abbreviated clips adjusted for online readership.
Outside of the professional world of journalism, new forms of newsgathering and sharing have grown as a result of the internet. The advent of the internet has allowed individual community members to write about what they deem newsworthy and easily disseminate it by way of the internet. This has given rise to the term “citizen journalist” in which news can be controlled by the average citizen as if they were journalists. In addition to creating their own news, citizen journalists are also given a platform from which they are able to address news issues. The internet provides a place where citizens can state their news and opinions to a very large audience. The main online platforms for any average person to share might include personal blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.
The controversy in this is that these are untrained individuals providing news to an audience that doesn’t necessarily consider the fact that what news they are reading is not being in any way controlled in the lawful, ethical and responsible practices of a professional journalist. These sources are not distinguished as separate and very different from professional publications. Nevertheless, citizen journalism is a widely growing field that is accepted by much of general society as a credible news source.
- Overly-Involved Journalists
In my opinion, I believe a professional journalist has a responsibility to be completely removed from any story they may be assigned to. A reporter must always keep in mind that there is no avoiding the fact...
Some examples of the benefits of citizen journalism include the firsthand sharing of events occurring during the revolution uprising in Egypt. When the government denied its people access to the internet, the few that were able to keep a connection worked together to relay the events as they occurred, thus keeping the outside world informed on this historical affair when there was no other way. Further benefits that could be considered are the ability for smaller voices to be heard resulting in changes for the better. For example, citizens unhappy about industrial runoff polluting a stream that runs through a public park. Enough talk circulating on the internet could become noticed by higher powers and result in changed made in accountability of businesses in their following of environmental standards.
While the benefits of citizen journalism can be wide-reaching, the drawbacks need also be considered. Standard practices that are followed by professional journalists are not held to citizen journalists to consider as their role in obtaining and relaying news. What is severely lacking in the citizen form of news-sharing is the disregard for the laws and ethics that steer journalistic practices. These pillars of journalism are taken very seriously by the professionals because that is what is expected as their obligation to the public, not to mention it is their job- one that could be lost if they neglect these responsibilities. Now that any untrained citizen is free to create or re-broadcast any news of their choosing without fear of repercussion, these pillars of journalism can be easily overlooked.
The laws concerning the practices of gathering and disseminating news are understood and abided by the professional journalist who has been trained in their importance. A citizen who decides to provide their own forms of news is not necessarily even aware of what laws they might be breaking. This has affected the legal framework regarding journalism as citizens neglect to consider the possibility that they may be breaking laws when they post their views and opinions publicly on the internet. Cases in which this ignorance has been made apparent include Courtney Love and Kim Kardashian facing libel suits for what they wrote on their Twitter accounts defaming certain companies. These kinds of oversights can end up hurting both parties: he/she who produced the misinformation faces the legal consequences and the party about which the libel was committed suffers the public’s possibly disdainful view of the party, perhaps even after the information is pardoned.
From an ethical perspective, a community journalist isn’t held accountable in the way a professional working for a news institution would be. While a citizen might write about an issue from their perspective, they may or may not be considering that the bias contained in their writing could have a substantial affect on the readership. Not all readers would read a blog about candidates in an electoral race and realize that what is printed is only one (possibly biased) perspective and isn’t necessarily a fair representation of the candidates. A professional journalist would be risking their job by not including all the facts while a blogger does not have this dilemma. If this blogger’s biased account is the only information a reader ingests before making their trip to the poll, it could help contribute to an unwarranted outcome. While this is an extreme example, it shows how this kind of ethical disregard and the power of citizen journalism carelessly wielded can have serious and perhaps disastrous effects.
In the local coverage of news, many publications have now developed comprehensive online sites that encourage reader involvement. Collaboration is presented in a variety of ways: public commentary on news stories is invited with comment boxes offered at the bottom of the online story page. Photo submissions of newsworthy spectacles are accepted and posted on the news site. Readers are recommended to follow media sources not only on the main website but also on twitter and facebook which offer readers news updates sometimes seconds after they occur as well as the opportunity to communicate directly and immediately with the newscasters. Furthermore, media providers are taking steps toward making their online news source more personal- editors are creating their own blogs and more hyperlocal news sources, such as Patch.com, are emerging and are publishing news completely dedicated to a specific town or city.
These changes are evident in not only local but state and national media sites as well. News is changing before our eyes and suddenly the public voice has become more involved than ever before. While the revolution of the news industry is in a very exciting phase, it is important to bear in mind what the differences may yield. It is essential that news always be viewed with a critical eye, because the sources are now emanating from so many more, not always credible, directions. Furthermore, as an aspiring journalist, one must enter this evolving industry with an open mind while holding to the crucial standard that every journalist should practice the most thoroughly investigative journalism in a truthful, lawful and ethical manner.