Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Impact of Modern Innovation on Journalism

Jenny Arundel

            In a world where we, as consumers, constantly search for the next best thing, how is journalism supposed to keep up with our high demands? We look for information that has all of the basic elements that journalism should ethically have, yet we wanted it faster, shorter, and more efficient than ever before. In Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel’s The Elements of Journalism, the idea of maintaining the ethical integrity and consumer appeal for journalism is challenged by the test of time and modern innovations.

            According to a Pew Research study on how social media is reshaping the way people consume news, significant changes have occurred since the earlier stages of journalism. The September 2014 study revealed that 30% of the U.S. adult population gets their news from Facebook. This is significantly different from earlier times where news was most commonly distributed by television or even word of mouth in some of the most primitive years. So, in times where news is so readily available to consumers, how can journalists keep up with the lightning-fast pace of their changing profession?
Source: Pew Research
            One interesting point made in The Elements of Journalism was the idea of having a conscience and maintaining basic ethics as a whole. This basic rule of journalism has struggled to survive the test of time and innovation but it is arguably one of the most important factors to maintain. Because technology gives even the average Joe the power to become a journalist himself by posting his thoughts online, actual journalists must separate themselves from the content that fills cyberspace with unethical, untrue, and often even malicious words. Kovach and Rosenstiel discuss how journalists are urged by other publications as well as their own to produce content that is both accurate as well as speedy. Because of these needs, it is not common for journalists to be tempted to produce work that is not entirely ethical or correct simply for the victory of getting the word out there first or for the sake of drawing more attention to the story.

            The Elements of Journalism further states how the basic task of journalists is to decide what is reliable and to produce the information in the most efficient way that people will understand. It is up to journalists as professionals to honor this task in their writing and to utilize their conscience in cases where it could potentially be compromised. However, in today’s age of technology, consumers are often more tempted to click on whatever link they see first, regardless of the accuracy of the content. 

       An article from the American Press Institute describes this phenomenon as people, specifically millennials, being more inclined to “let the news find them” rather than seek out news on his or her own. There is only so much journalists can do to make their work more appealing to the consumer hunting for the fastest content. As challenged by Kovach and Rosenstiel, the role of the citizen must evolve. Consumers must become more aware of the ethics of the content they consume. Though we are constantly conditioned to think faster is always better, a common ground between technology and good journalism is needed. Citizens must accept their role in the art of journalism and learn to adopt the basics of the field with their passion for new innovation.

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