Monday, March 23, 2009


I just wanted to follow up my post from last night on the importance of professional journalism's survival in the face of the new media onslaught.

CNN online ran quite a fitting follow up piece today about the very same topic. It is a scary proposition, as some of the comments following the article express, if user-generated content becomes so dominant that the news becomes something difficult to trust and is by and large unsubstantiated opinion.

The article claims that large national newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post will most likely survive, and may indeed thrive under this new order. But I still think there is a danger.

It is pretty ironic that web 2.0 and the new media are promoted as handing power back into the hands of people, but at the same time manage to destroy the Fourth Estate which is arguably one of the most important checks on our democracy.

I have to think there is some sort of happy medium, but what that might be is unclear right now. It is a red flag when it becomes increasingly more difficult to find any source of news that is worth trusting, even marginally, without extensive checking. Not that one should trust everything they read, but if at any time the impetus to do the fact checking falls primarily on the shoulders of readers, the corpse of our democracy will be laid in a coffin lined with newspaper.


  1. Somewhat related article here:

    Major media companies are lobbying Google to rank their content higher since they are offering more "professional" journalism than other outlets, some of whom simply repeat (or rip off) these publishers.

  2. We were on the same thought wavelength to end the weekend it seems :-)

    It will be interesting to see how the financial battles here take place.

    I think however it shakes out, there will be a large enough niche of news junkies that will contribute to keep good news flowing. Check out Fast Company's article, "Will NPR Save the News?"

  3. Hey - thanks. And Matt I just kicked myself; I meant to mention and link to your post.

    Both of those links were great pieces. I can certainly understand the first when it says that users are not necessarily looking for The Times when they search on a story. It is precisely that people are more interested in what random bloggers say than professional news organizations that frightens me. Don't get me wrong, we have our place (do you like how I used "we?"), but clearly our collective perception of "news" has already been altered by our new media. Then again...FOX News has been around for a while now, so I guess the threat isn't just from new media.

  4. I'd be really curious about what kinds of information people are interested in when they read blogs (heavy v. lite info), and how much they feel reinforced or swayed by blogs. (Maybe a project for another time...)

    At least for myself, and among my peers, bloggers are of value because they link and combine their own thoughts WITH trusted information.

    That's why I think the whole online reporting community, pros and amateurs and pro-ams (i.e. trusted independents), are going to realize their symbiotic relationship and find ways to support each other. (I hope!)

  5. Yes I agree - they have value for me too, and me and my friends use them in much the same way. It is good to get other perspectives. But it is not "reporting," per se and I actually think a lot of people make that mistake. It is amazing what good design can convince people of.

    I guess the point is that if professional sources can not survive (assuming NPR does not save us all, and if it does, one source is hardly enough), then these will be the only sources we have.