As the age of digital communication continues to rise, the traditional definition of journalism seems to be graying. When I think of the word journalism, I envision someone with pen and paper interviewing the witness of a crime. Today, however, the witness is the journalist. Regular citizens are now involved in both shaping and distributing hard hitting news stories.
Brian Carroll, author of Writing and Editing for Digital Media, defines journalists as those who “gather and share information, applying a discipline of verification in order to maximize the truth, minimize the harm, and to provide a fair and comprehensive account.” Everyday people are “journalists” without even knowing it, and their stories are the ones they post on social media including blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.
So if more and more citizens have access to become journalists on a variety of blog sites and social media, what does this mean for news papers? According to the Pew Research Journalism Project, journalism and editorial jobs are significantly declining, while digital journalistic jobs are on the rise. In order for newspapers and other print sources to keep up they will have to make some changes. Brian and Carroll suggest gearing stories towards their audience, the elderly, or making the move from print to digital.
Digital Media: the Good and the Bad
As more and more print news sources transition into the digital world there are both pros and cons to consider. First let’s consider the benefits digital journalism provides us.
- Instant Gratification – We all want to know what is going on, who is involved, and why it happened as soon as the event occurred. We, as society, do not have the patience to wait to see what tomorrow’s headline in the newspaper will be. We want it now.
- Engagement – Comment and twitter feeds allow ordinary people to get involved with the conversation. This lets citizens feel like they are contributing to the journalism process and helps articles spread. When someone decides to share on Facebook an article they saw on ABC, all of that person’s followers will see that same article on their news feed. This cycle continues and each time the number of views on that article increases.
In short, digital media allows news to be seen and distributed quickly.
Now lets take a look at the negative effects of digital media
- Quality – The quality of the article may decrease because trained journalists are not writing the full story. Journalists are trained in ethical codes as well as checking for accuracy. . Regular citizens do not always take this into consideration and therefore inaccurate and biased stories are commonly distributed.
- Comment Feeds – Comments on articles can spark unnecessary arguments or hurtful remarks towards a group of people. These comments can end up shadowing the article itself and decreasing its credibility.
The Digital age is upon us and whether we like it or not, print is becoming a thing of the past.