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Is New Media a Threat to Journalism?

Posted By Darren Rowse 15th of October 2007 Reader Questions 0 Comments

Here is a quick question for your discussion. I’m writing a short column on the topic for a magazine (ironically) and while I’ve already written most of it thought it’d be a better article with your ideas. The topic:

Will the growing popularity of digital user-generated content pose a threat to the traditional journalist?

I’ve been given the task of writing in the affirmative and presenting the case for digital user generated content – although don’t have to take the extreme.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Journalists tend to be focussed on their particular areas, angles or political alignments, subscribing to a number of blogs, forums etc in areas that interest you is eye opening – the range of views, experiences, ideas, humour and interests is amazing, far more challenging to your thinking!

  2. Yes, I think New Media is killing the traditional media.

    In my opinion, it comes down to gatekeeping. With the traditional media, you’ve got a vast reach, but the ideas and information, and content all trickles down from one powerful source at the top with their own personal agenda.
    Here’s an example:
    If Anna Wintour does not like a fashion designer for personal reasons, you’re probably not going to be reading much about said designer in Vogue.
    Anna is the gatekeeper, and her ideas and opinions are ultimately far-reaching becauses Vogue is such a large publication. There’s no room for other opinions or alternative viewpoints.

    This is the folly of traditional media. New Media on the other hand is all about the individual. I could care less about what Anna Wintour thinks of that designer, because I find their clothing fresh and fun. Therefore, I am going to blog about it, hype them up, and sing their praises. A few years ago, I may have only been able to reach within my circle of friends, but now that the internet has gone “2.0,” I can potentially shout my opinions for the world to hear. So can everyone else!
    I think mainstream media gatekeepers are getting wise to this and are finding ways to make sure they stay on top, but things are changing and for the better in this blogger’s humble opinion.

  3. Hi, I do both. I also happen to be a baby boomer (I hate that term).

    Anyway. For the present there is need for both. When the new “tradition” emerges in MSM (and there will likely always be some form of MSM even if that becomes the arm of the state) there will likely be a new definition of the genre “Cit J”.

    Travis mentioned on-the-scene amateur video being used instead of professional photojournalists; well, that is nothing really new except that there are more amateur video-types on the loose these days and fewer paid photojournalists who are not roaming the streets getting the latest for the next publication as glorified in Spiderman but are out on assignments that can’t be cut short. Often reporters double as their own videographers lugging around 50-100 pound cameras and tripods and hoping nobody steals or trips over them. And why, when Cit J just uses their camera phone; because even the best camera phone translates to shoddy video on TV regardless of format. Then there is the argument for perspective and depth versus the raw in-your-face video streaming of the amateur camera phone user.

    But the original question is “does digital user-generated content pose a threat to traditional journalists?” There is that perception at the moment because the bulk of journalists are a generation before the digital revolution and the scrambling required to make changes gives the impression of running for their lives as a whole. It is true that some resisted too long and actually are on a race to save their stake in the market. But it is not true across the board. For some of us, and I include myself even though I was away from journalism for about 2 decades, it makes possible so many things we dreamed about doing but budget and editorial and publishing said was non-essential.

    And it is also true that because nothing is static the traditionalists who are catching the digital vision realize that survival means being able to meet the next shift so how much do they invest in this phase and how much of it will be reusable in the next evolution is a realistic business consideration. Anybody with a crystal ball? Maybe Godin has a spare.

  4. Then again, the traditional media, and the new one, are not two completely separate camps.

    You could mix both of them together easily.

  5. Greetings all,

    Although we are seeing an increase in the digital media front, a long way to go we still have before we could even say that digital media is going to give the journalist a run for their money.

    Blogging still has a lowbrow stigma to it,most of the corporate world still can’t
    1. tell you what a blog is
    2. can’t see themselves needing one
    3. Think bloggers are gray matter lacking fluffy slipper bored house wives. (not far from the truth)

    This perception problem will keep the blogger down in the respect of the greater community, it is this reason that print media is still the preferred media for information education.

    Interestingly traditional media still accounts for 53% of all education media – i.e. the newspaper.

    99% of all blogs are still the rantings of people who now feel they have a soap box to stand upon, not to mention many are inaccurate.

    News media is becoming aware of the blogs sphere and there are already a few cases where they have been made to look a little foolish, but a long way of a undulating track the blogger still has to walk down.

    It may effect the news media channels over time, but with the average person still not being the sharpest tool in the shed, and bookshops closing down on busy city streets, I think the journalist still has a fair head start on the poor blogger.

    Have a B L O G G I N G good day!

  6. I have grown to prefer getting my news from blogs. Still, I like to check up on traditional news sources, but I am increasingly finding that many journalists are flakes. I recently wrote a letter to the Associated Press after they sponsored an article that was inaccurate and lacked any semblance of objectivity. I am an animal rights advocate and the article was pertaining to that line of subject matter. The article was not even thoroughly researched. That is just one very recent example. The publicity of the Jena 6 is another good example of how user generated content has the power to bring worthy stories to the forefront. I say more electronic journalism and less major media!

  7. Journalism will, and already is, adapting to the new media environment. As many have said, Journalists are already online. I predict this evolution will continue and news organizations will provide information in the form that people demand.

    Moreover, journalism implies standards (read: editors), which most bloggers don’t have. There is always a place for this third-party information – it brings credibility and trust. Bloggers are more like the op-ed section of the newspaper, infinitely interesting, but often wrong.

  8. I am also a blogger and a journalist and I’m 24, so I’m not a dinosaur.

    Overall, I think MSM is looking toward online and doing some amazing things. I also thing bloggers are forging a path. At the moment, I think both forms of media can co-exist.

    If you look at a majority of sites, from Joe Schmo down the street blogging about local politics to the massive Gawker sites, there is still a reliance on MSM. Journalists still do break stories and report them well. They’re also taking their own video, and posting constantly to the web.

    I think newspapers (the form of media I work for) don’t necessarily cast blogs as trash. We read them. Some of the old-timers thought they were a passing fad, but blogs and user-gen content is here to stay and I believe MSM recognizes that. There ar a number of papers out there that are launchnig user-gen sites, and allowing citizens to blog for the paper. Papers are using blogs as content for the print edition.

    So, I don’t think ti’s fair to say MSM is ignoring anything and I won’t even get into the whole “MSM has a slant” deal. Bloggers have slant too. As a “house” of media with lots of eyes reading each piece, different people with different viewpoints touch each story. That’s the whole basis of how journalistic objectivity. Of course a single reporter has their bias. But the report is not the only person handling and crafting a story.

    Is new media a threat to my job? No. Journalists will always have a place in society. Someone has to write the news, and maybe in the future people will not be so crotchety to say that bloggers aren’t journalists (I don’t subscribe to this). There will always be someone paying reporters to produce news. Will it be on paper? Probably not. But even the most podunk of papers has a web site anymore. It may not be fantastic, but it’s there.

    There are plenty of young people such as myself pushing MSM to do more, and they’re willingly doing it. They see the declining revenue, etc. More risks are being taken and will continue to.

  9. Hi,

    Interesting stuff. As a PR agency owner, I think “New” online media has had a huge effect on traditional media. For proof one only need look at the every declining national and regional newspaper circulations.

    Online media definitely has an advantage to move a story on at a breakneck pace making traditional print media out of date within hours. People have naturally focused more on new media more and more as this is seen as the source of the debate within a story.

    I don’t think that new media will kill off journalism, as many media outlets and journos already have a strong online presence. I do however think that it has a great affect on quality journalism, as some lazy journos take blog content and Wikipedia, for example, as red with sometimes disastrous consequences.

    Take a look at my blog for examples when national journalists have taken blog content too seriously, rather with a balance view.

    Matt – Montage Communications

  10. I don’t think it is a threat so much as a challenge. When I am following a story, there are a number of things I typically am more likely to find in blog discussions than in print media, including links to the documents being discussed and a considerable amount of background.

    I personally do not think that blogging has had nearly the effect on the MSM as the MSM would like to think. I think that they were offering an inferior product for some time before blogs became relevant. Now they have some competition and they should use this as an opportunity to improve their offering. That will not happen if they refuse to look at how they cover news and instead just blame blogging for their failures.

  11. I one case you could say that most of the digital created content, often isn’t produced by professionals in this area. No professional journalists.

    On the other side you could say that, there will be created a widder range of oppinions and the media will loose it’s power in creating oppinions which could be false. Or you get on better informations because a journalist who writes about a topic, often isn’t a professional in this topic while others might be and they get the chance of presenting their view or they have more reliable or detailt sources/informations. For example Burma, where local Burmese had a much bigger power than the media, because the media couldn’t get informations out of Burma.

  12. I would love to write and say what a great job you did on this, as you have put a lot of work into it.

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