J500 Media and the Environment


Does rise in new media change objectivity in traditional journalism? by jenniferedw
July 8, 2009, 7:49 pm
Filed under: J840 Week 4, Society + Media | Tags: , , , ,

I believe most journalists do strive to be objective. However, I wonder if the changing landscape of the media has made an impact on the way “traditional” journalists report the news.

The ways people find and read news are changing as technology progresses. Will this eventually lead to a change in the way traditional journalists cover news?

The ways people find and read news are changing as technology progresses. Will this eventually lead to a change in the way traditional journalists cover news?

During the past couple of years, the emergence of blogs and other similar internet communication functions has made it seem that anyone with knowledge about how to use these types of tools, and an opinion about any issue to share with others, can become a journalist in a sense. As bloggers have built audiences and new technology has changed the way people communicate, traditional journalism seems to be struggling. At wordpress.com, there are more than 205,000 bloggers, but less people are taking time to read a traditional newspaper or watch a traditional evening newscast. Instead people are finding news online when they want it and from a variety of traditional and non-traditional sources. This new behavior seems to be leading to layoffs at newspapers across the country while driving down profits at media companies.

As the pool of traditional journalists becomes smaller, they will be more stretched to cover a variety of topics, as opposed to in the past, when they may have been able to specialize in specific areas or beats. As they have less time to spend researching topics or gathering their own data, I wonder if it will become harder and harder to be objective and not be swayed by packaged data and messages from external sources, such as special interest groups — which represent the views of their own clients. In turn, because the traditional journalists likely work for still-well-respected news sources, they may set the tone about an issue for readers, bloggers, etc., who in turn perpetuate that message.

I’ve never worked as a journalist — this is only my perception about the ways the industry seems to be changing. I’m curious to hear from others who have worked directly within the industry, to see if this perception is true.

-Jennifer E.

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3 Comments so far
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Jennifer,
I heard a great interview today on NPR’s program “Fresh Air” that you might find of interest. Terry Gross was interviewing Chris Anderson, editor of “Wired” magazine about his new book called “Free: The Future of a Radical Price.” http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106347439

While the book is about making money off of giving stuff away for free, they did discuss in the interview about how free content is affecting journalism because “anyone with knowledge about how to use these types of tools, and an opinion about any issue to share with others, can become a journalist.”

Personally I think the medium is transforming the way we think about content in general. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people in the last week comment about “TMZ says…” in regards to Michael Jackson’s death, only to follow up in the next breath with, “But you know how reliable TMZ is.” *wink *wink

Overall I would say just as there are more venues for delivering content, and delivery is easier than ever before, so too are consumers becoming more discriminating about the content they choose to engage with and carry through to their every day life.

Cindy Olsen

Comment by cindyol

Hi Jennifer.
Excellent point! I’ve never thought about the impact the shrinking amounts of reporters could have on bias. You’re absolutely right. In my reporting years, I was constantly bombarded with information. When you’re busy and have a lot of do, I’m sure it can seem easy to take the information given to you without checking out the facts. It’s an interesting concept. I wonder how editors at newspapers are dealing with this right now? Do you think undergraduate journalism education needs to be altered to deal with these changes?

Comment by Maggie K.

Hi Maggie. I do think it’s a good idea for undergraduate journalism students to learn how to even approach a career in journalism right now, with the pool and opportunities for traditional journalists shrinking, and newer media emerging. I think it’s imperative that skills such as blogging be taught, and that students learn how to use the new tools effectively. MU is now requiring incoming freshman to have an iPod touch or iPhone this fall, which I think is very cool and will hopefully help them be better prepared for the fast-paced world of new media and journalism. http://journalism.missouri.edu/undergraduate/web-media-player.html

Comment by jenniferedw




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