Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Online Journalism: Leading to the Death of Reporting?

Salon.com's Gary Kamiya wrote an article predicting that the death of the newspaper industry would also be the death of reporting. According to Kamiya, the rise of the new media has led to a "new journalism" that places less emphasis on the learned craft of objective reporting and fact-checking. He writes, "there is no substitute for field reporting, in which a real live human being observes an event while it is happening and talks to other real, live human beings. It is an immutable fact that firsthand observation is the building block not just of journalism, but of all human knowledge." Though somewhat alarmist, the article does a good job highlighting both the benefits of journalist bloggers (often knowledgeable individuals who did not previously have a platform from which to commentate and fact-check) and the detriments in relying more on slanted commentary instead of objective reporting.

He acknowledges the new media's expansion of traditional journalism:

"At the same time that newspapers are dying, blogging and "unofficial" types of journalism continue to expand, grow more sophisticated and take over some (but not all) of the reportorial functions once performed by newspapers. New technologies provide an infinitely more robust feed of raw data to the public, along with the accompanying range of filtering, interpreting and commenting mechanisms that the Internet excels in generating."

And finally, maybe a benefit of the "newshole" is that unrelated stories squeezed together actually increase the breadth of knowledge we unconsciously get from a newspaper page.

"Because of the physical layout of a newspaper, you're much more likely to read a story you aren't interested in than you would if you were online. [...] Online media is tailored to respond to the individual's conscious desires; it is less capable of stimulating latent ones. [...] It will be feast and famine: There will be far less primary reporting done by professionals and far more information available to ordinary citizens."

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