Sunday, November 29, 2009

Week 15: Unit 4: Professionalism, Uncertainty and the Future of Journalism

Journalism is an institution that continues to evolve with time but still has its roots in proving “newsworthy content” to its audience. Kovach and Rosenstiel list two key components that should keep journalism grounded while benefiting the consumer, “Journalists must make the significant interesting and relevant” (p. 208) and “Journalists should keep the news comprehensive and in proportion.” (p. 187) However with the growth of technology, journalism and the news media have come to a pivotal point where critical decisions will have to be made.
The Internet has created a portal where now the consumer can become the creator, where instead of being a one-way-street in terms of the media producing content and the audience accepting the content, the street has become two-way now. The audience now has the opportunity to create or even change already published material. The consumer can now create news that they specifically want instead of only being able to consume what is given to them, this has given the consumer the freedom of choice. This all may sound great for the audience/consumer but what about the journalist and the news media?
Journalists are embracing this new wave by using consumer generated content and even asking for more by sending the public out to report but they do have some reservations about the change. According to the “Fundamental Values” section of the “Online Journalist Survey” section from the “,” “a solid majority (57%) say the Internet is ‘changing the fundamental values of journalism’ rather than ‘transferring those values online.’ And the change was deemed more negative than positive.” Journalists and the news media have reasonable fears about all this consumer-generated content. With this sudden wealth of consumer-generated content the chance of errors, plagiarism, fiction, etc. has also risen.
All in all, this new stage of journalism and the news media with technology and specifically consumer-generated content whether it be writing, video, audio, pictures etc. like all things, it has its pluses and negatives. Consumers and journalists alike are benefiting but in the end they both can also reap the negatives when it comes to errors. The news media needs to get ahead of the curve and figure out how to not necessarily control the flow of content but restrain it better. Whether it be paying for content or leaving everything, the news media needs to make a move and quickly before they lose all control and power to the everyday audience. What good would a degree in journalism do then?


  1. Well a few more things would have to happen before we lose all control. After all, as professionals we are given some specific legal protections and privileges under the government for what we do that no blogger could ever get. Admittedly, many bloggers have received national acclaim and could be on their way to such accreditation, but that hasn't been validated just yet. But I do agree with you that a whole lot of caution needs to be applied when considering user-generated content, heck that's a lot of what my final reserach paper was about. There are ways in which both blogging and professional journalism can be threatened by the other, but they can work together as well, as you mentioned with the crowd-sourcing and all. But I'm also interested to see how this practice of user-generated content will help journalism to evolve over the next few years. Theories have been offered on the subject, some saying that this new trend will inspire journalism to become more microlocal, as in focusing on local content even more, in fact in just the medium proximity in every community. Ohters say it will push profesisonals to create even better journalism then before. We'll see what happens.

  2. I agree with Nick's comment. I don't think we're in any danger as journalists of loosing control just yet. Yes, there are a lot of concerns about user-generated content, but I think most journalists and news organizations are aware of the situation. In a time where the Internet is changing the playing field completely, it's important to be able to adapt.
    Like Jessica said, a lot of news organizations are taking advantage of the changing nature of journalism and letting the audience participate more than they have in the past. But as she also mentioned, this does open the door for more errors. That in turn causes journalists to lose a level of credibility. I agree with Nick that we'll have to see what happens. But I would hope that this change is the impetus journalists need to start producing better journalism/content than we've seen in the recent years.

  3. I feel that you are correct in that journalism does need to make a move soon; rather it is paying for online content or some way to generate money through online media sources. However, I do not feel that the media will lose control of the public. The media still has the advantage over the everyday bloggers and website creators, the media still and will always have access to certain places and sources that an everyday citizen will not be able to get into. While the flow of information has become side-to-side instead of top-to-bottom, the media at the end of the day are still the gatekeepers to the crucial information that a majority of the public wants. The internet is most certainly changing the way everyone gets their information. I feel that over time the internet will change our society even more. However, no matter how much it changes the media will still be there while, some bloggers will come and go. The media has always had to adapt to change in technology, and with the internet they will do so once again. The media will always have an audience, making a journalism degree still very useful in this world.

  4. I think that you address a lot of questions that we as journalism students ask ourselves about the future in the profession. I would have to say though that I believe that there will the everyday person, will never be able to replace the professional journalists. Although there will be all of the outside influences that you touched on,there will always be the need to information from professionals. You can only have soccer moms providing so much news before it becomes a mockery and journalists and media owners will not let this happen. I agree that something needs to change though. And when I say change, i mean a transformation in the newsroom to combat these threats from outside unreliable sources.

  5. I think it's important for newsrooms/news organizations that are using crowd sourcing techniques to maintain the gatekeeper role. This will help ensure that journalists don't lose control of their content and their audience. It has been proven many times that citizens can provide valuable coverage and input and they are a resource that news organizations must tap into in order to survive in the new media environment. But, I think this can be done in a way that doesn't facilitate a total citizen take over of a news organization. There is a reason for journalism schools and other training. Journalism isn't something just anyone can do, although in today's world, publishing is. So, news people should continue to crowd source, but it should be in a controlled way that combines both the reach of citizen journalists/reporters with the expertise of real news people. I think this is the ideal balance, although it is of course easier said than done.