Whose journalism? – Jyotsna Natarajan

It’s not just journalism that likes to think of the past as golden; like everything else, for better or worse, we are living in a less golden age today.

What this means for journalism is clearly capitalism with a compromise on journalistic ethics and standards as the “good old days” defined these terms. Like everything else, the definition of “good journalism” too has undergone a sea change.

I do not think it was ever possible to be truly “objective” in reporting simply because there is always more than one version of any story, any event, any happening. What we can do however, is keep certain thumb rules handy to make sure we do our best to get as many versions into a written piece so that a person reading it understands a more complete picture.

The Internet, with the advent of the blogosphere is then a blessing towards this goal. It’s thanks to capitalism, the concentration of ownership and control in media, the monopolistic practices in businesses – in other words, all the things that have made our current world “bad” – that has led to the shaping of the Internet, online journalism and blogs. The very aspects of the old world that were suppressants of good journalism have led to the adoption of a possible solution in the form of the Internet (free access to many news sources) and the blogoshpere.

While the last few decades of the television boom have been blamed for dulling the senses of the masses and made them more passive as audiences that are easier to manipulate, the Internet is just the opposite. It requires a more active participation, more acute sense of judgement in selecting from the information overload, and ultimately boils down to what the reader is looking for.

Dissatisfied users have not had it better – blogs are a vent for billion burning issues that have long longed for a sounding board. Blogs are the mainstream press in a world that is getting more and more virtual.

Rather than lamenting on the poor journalism job that is being catered to the masses, we need to appreciate the outlet in the form of independent online journalists – we no longer have to be passive receivers of that which we do not care for. In spite of this if we are still sitting ducks for advertisers to make money off of, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Traditional media cannot afford to sit back in the glory of their monopolies or size for much longer. Competition is no longer a level-playing field with every individual a potential journalist of sorts. The paper for this week’s reading, “The role of the Internet in Local and National News Media use” also shows how people are actively seeking out sources online in addition to reading traditional media. The long-standing finding that newspapers are the medium that contribute most to political knowledge is changing.

In the future, traditional media will have to adapt in order to survive – either by way of incorportating the more popular blogs into their news pieces or editorials, or by way of journalists themselves seeking blogs as an outlet to post “different” versions of news stories.

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