Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Note on the Future of Journalism

Poynter Online's David Beard has an article that I'd like to touch on.

As well as Mark Glasner's at Media Shift.

I'm not going to go into the well tracked list form, but rather point towards the state of affairs in journalism in general.

We are in an age where our papers are closing their doors. Likewise, we see a shift in the news services as being less about journalism itself, but essentially PR extensions. More and more you must consider the source, and purpose of a story's release upon reading or hearing. This politicization of the media has made Fox a powerhouse, but at the cost of their integrity as a news service. And more and more, we are watching our media services consumed by larger, interconnected players who consider their news services to not be bastions of information, but distribution centers for pre-packaged messaging.

We only have to look at the recent events in Iran's elections. Or the sponsorship of the Tea Party movement by Fox to illustrate how our journalism services have been turned into less information, and more message oriented machines. Amanpour's slant and weave on the Iranian strife, or the ebullient "reporter" getting the crowd to cheer for the camera at a Tea Party rally.

And what is interesting is all the while that the major outlets are turning to slick and professional ways to send out packaged messaging--even down to polls designed to give pre-generated results--you are seeing a push by an interconnected online community to fact check, and more, to disseminate that around these "official" channels.

The best features for the future for journalism are going to be preserved by the democratization of the media. Not just bloggers, but the interconnectedness of the Internet to call up stories, to dig up archives to keep politicos honest, and expose them in their own lies and hypocrisy. While the styling of a fake news broadcast like The Daily Show are funny, they are the imprint of the future of journalism as a whole--the viewer and consumers pushing back against the press release modus.

Blogs and online publications have their own slant, and are used very much in this press release process. Talking points are easily spread, and as a tool for organization, it is useful to keep many voices on point to develop the illusion of consensus. But that only works when we allow ourselves to fall into step.

It saddens me that our press services are abdicating their responsibility to inform, and are instead increasingly compliant, but I am encouraged to see sparks of integrity when the cynical news services are shamed to rouse themselves from the feeding trough that is easy information, and profitable backing, by their own audience.  And therein is the struggle, to keep our media services on point and often embarrassed to catch up with the changing landscape.

In other words: keep it up. Keep poking, keep prodding, because ultimately, we have the government--and the media--that we deserve. Without active involvement in either, we get what others want, as opposed to what we need.

Originally posted on Thu Oct 08, 2009 at 11:42:23 AM EDT at The Motley Moose

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