Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Adapting to Change

Katherine King

The introduction to new technology and the growth of the Internet continues to influence how we access, share, and tell news stories.  Before the 21st century, when society was limited to the amount of channels it was able to share information through, ethics was an easier concept.  But technology progressed and journalism/journalists had to adapt to its surroundings.

In today's age, it is rare to find someone who doesn't own a smart phone, laptop, tablet, etc.  An excessive amount of phone applications have now been created that allow people to receive information and stories almost instantly after they happen.  The usage of mobile devices to obtain the news has increased an extreme amount and doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon.  According to the State of the News Media 2015, it's not only the growth of the mobile phone, but also the rise of the Social web.  People no longer need to be in front of a computer scene to access the new stories being reported.  This can affect how people read and understand the information they see.  For example, the Pew Research Center reported that more people use mobile devices to check the recent news, but spend less time looking at the information present that those who are accessing the information on a desktop.  This allows for people to misunderstand the whole story or the point the article is trying to prove.

Photo Source: Pew Research Center

The amount of news stories being produced online has increased and created more competition for journalists to achieve the greatest audience.  New social media sites allow almost anyone to report on upcoming events, stories, or recent news and they aren't always including ethics in what they post online.

With many people reporting on stories, journalists need to watch out for unreliable sources.  The information presented on the Internet is not always accurate and people should not assume that it is.  When anyone can comment or post stories, people should be skeptical when deciding what to believe.  This changes the flow of information as well.  People can receive their news from multiple sources and journalists aren't the only ones providing the news stories to the public. I feel as if this is where ethics get sketchy because journalists want their work to be recognized over others and they try to present the most interesting information, while sometimes forgetting about ethical decision making.

Another thing that people need to adapt to is the increase of communities on the Internet and knowing your boundaries as a journalist.  One thing that I think contributes to your success as a journalist is establishing a good rapport in the community that you want to report for.  This can become tricky because communities overlap and do not always agree on the angle that you report from.  Social media and the rise of mobile devices influence this because once your article is posted, it can be shared across multiple sites, where anyone can provide feedback to what you wrote.  What one community might enjoy, could offend another and ruin a relationship with a set of readers who weren't happy with what you said.  Also, once something is posted on the Internet, it remains.

According to Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen in Time Magazine, upcoming decades will face two realities, one physical and one virtual.  We already see this happening in the 21st century and in the upcoming generations.  Remaining faithful to the core ethical values is a challenge that will only become more complex.  The truth may seem to be simple, but with anyone having easy access to information, accurate and truthful information may not always be present.


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