New media and the old school
A recent report released by Columbia University’s Tow Centre for Digital Journalism — after large-scale research and study — has concluded that ‘new wave media’ will not end the need for true journalists. The report says that the paradigm of journalism has changed, its economy has changed and the way the news is reported has changed, affecting the industry in both positive and negative ways.
However, the report is explicit in underlining that professional journalists can never be replaced when it comes to digging up important news accurately. The phenomenon of new media has exploded into our lives with the advent of instant connectivity and 24 hour newsfeeds. We live in an age of citizen journalism where blogging, ‘crowdsourcing’ — in which different tasks are outsourced to an indefinite number of people — and constant updates are the norm, where breaking the story has become more important than reporting the story. Reaching out to the world with the mere click of a button has made it that much easier to spread an issue or a story like wildfire, gathering followers with limited attention spans and information overload.
While being able to receive information, news updates, analysis and opinions so quickly and usually without boundaries is a thrilling new development in how the media works, it does have its downside. With so many ‘everyday journalists’ expressing their opinions and ideas online, how does the reader distinguish between fact and fiction? Mainstream journalism, which thrives on a strict code of ethics, demands that facts be dug up, sources be protected, statistics and numbers be verified, and that nothing be second-guessed.
New media is instant gratification — it satisfies the human psyche, persuading it into believing that what it has read online is absolute truth when little to no verification is given. The age of Twitter and blogging has meshed fact with opinion, making it very hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. The study tells of how some of the biggest and most explosive stories of our time, such as the Enron scandal, were all products of well researched, investigative news reporting and how one would be hard pressed to find such a level of hardnosed, traditional journalism in this day and age. This study has, in detail, elaborated a fact that we all should know by now: while new media is a force to be reckoned with, there is no equivalent to good old-fashioned journalism.