Are traditional forms of informational media dying? What are their equivalents?
What happens to editorial control, credibility and ethics in the new media forms of information presented in wikis or blogs?
There have been numerous reports of things like traditional newspapers losing their readership as news is increasingly consumed online. Just this past week, Fairfax announced it was laying off staff from The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. I suspect that this is not only due to more outsourcing of work, but also to Fairfax adjusting to the fact that their readers are turning more to the web for their news – where they can get the news faster and, in some cases, for free. These news outlets have to think of ways to re-market themselves in order to reinvigorate their appeal to readers and somehow impel them to pay for their online services.
However, I do not think that informational media is dying – it is in a state of evolution. As was documented in the Singer & Ashman reading for 3.1, user-generated content is allowing citizen journalism to gain traction (2009, p. 233). It is challenging traditional notions of journalism, in that ordinary people are now able to record their own opinions and commentary in online environments. This may occur through blogs, or contributing comments to a news site’s comments and feedback features.
In the blogosphere, editorial control is not completely lost by the news media giants – they are still able to review and remove offensive commentary on their own sites. But, in many cases, the dialogue has shifted to other, privately maintained blogs. These blogs allow the blogger to comment freely on topics or news of their choosing. So the ethics detailed in such personal forums are open to interpretation and can even be abandoned completely to serve more pernicious purposes.
Interestingly, I have increasingly noticed in my own travails through blog posts and reading alternative opinions and online media, that credibility seems to be attributed to the fact that a blogger has inserted links to original news stories that they are commenting on. I have observed that the more a blogger links to what is considered trustworthy and reliable sources of information, the more credibility they are perceived to have by the blog’s followers.
This observation has led me to wonder about the nature of the news we consume through the blogosphere. I’m sure that it can become twisted and manipulated into something quite different from the original report/news item. Unfortunately, not all readers would seek out the truth when confronted with such opinion, which makes me wonder too about our abilities to detect trustworthy information from unreliable sources. Again, I smell traces of Orwellian newspeak coming to fore in the foreseeable future if we are not careful.
Singer, J. B. & Ashman, I. (2009). User-Generated Content and Journalistic Values. In S. Allen & E. Thorsen (Eds.), Citizen Journalism: Global Perspectives. (pp. 233-242). New York: Peter Lang. Retrieved from http://link.library.curtin.edu.au/p?pid=CUR_ALMA51115421260001951