Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Journalism may change, but its core values never will

Christopher Miller
Change is often regarded as a positive thing, typically associated with improvement and a sense of betterment in some way. Journalism is a field that has seen immense change within recent decades. The problem though is that the changes within the journalism industry, specifically the increasing presence of online and other digital elements of journalism have not generated the rave reviews many though it would. This holds true not only within the industry itself but also among the general public.
In fact, data has shown that the rise of online journalism is largely hindering the profession and its reputation. This comes as a startling surprise in my opinion given that online journalism has the capability to constantly provide readers with a plethora of content quickly, cheaply, easily and efficiently. Despite the many obvious benefits of online journalism it has largely developed a bad rap. The reason for this unfortunate truth is because journalists are failing to realize that just because the traditional medium has changed from print to digital that does not mean that we abandon the principals at which the profession was built on. Until that is realized on a consistent basis, the profession and its reputation will continue to suffer.

The findings in the 2009 State of the News Media Report, as troubling as they may be to stomach, do not lie. In a study, journalism professionals were asked a simple question, “In what way(s) is the Internet changing the fundamental values of Journalism?” the finding proved largely negative.
The most common gripe regarding the current state of online journalism was that it was loosening standards and creating carelessness among journalists.
“It is eliminating the gatekeeper role,” wrote an editor and content manager responsible for both online and print newsroom operations, “pressing journalists to produce without the same degree of reflection and verification (stateofthemedia.org, 2009).”
Other issues included the belief that it was emphasizing speed rather than accuracy.
“The focus is more on getting the news out before checking its accuracy, and this is weakening journalism’s credibility,” wrote another. “A reversion to checking and double-checking is needed, especially since mistakes can last forever online (stateofthemedia.org, 2009).”
Another issue is that it was the superficial nature of online journalism and how it has strayed from its traditionally analytic style. Additionally there was the qualm that online journalism lacks objectivity and is chalk full of personal opinions and biases.

An equally dissatisfying remark for anyone in the journalism profession to hear is that, “A recent Ipsos study found that only 10% of those surveyed believe the news industry 'acts with integrity (Los Angeles Times, 2015).”

There is little doubt that the various technological advances that have taken place throughout the twentieth century have been nothing short of revolutionary for the journalism industry. In spite of these advances though, a career as a journalist is not the same “highly coveted dream job” it used to be in the early 1900s. The reason is because people’s perception of the profession and those who practice it is largely negative. Journalists are not seen in a positive light typically. The reason is because the people are not fond of journalist’s repeated pushing the limits with regard to the core values of the profession. Journalists are failing to realize that just because the traditional medium has changed from print to digital that does not mean that we abandon the principals at which the profession was built on.  Regardless of the medium, journalism must be conducted in accordance with the core values, anything less is not true journalism.

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