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New Media v. Old Media

Posted by Andrew at 6:30 AM on July 14, 2010

How social media points the way forward for journalism. It’s a real example of how traditional media are becoming social media-aware and are using Facebook, Twitter and their ilk to get the news stories out faster and with more information.

However, what really registered with me is at the very end of the article.

There is a word of caution that goes with trusting what we read on this great “word of mouth” network.  Recent rumour mill stories on Facebook on the private lives of footballers ended up in the press and were proven to be totally wrong. So while this new technology can speed up the newsgathering process, journalists will need to make sure they do what they have always done – double check the facts.

I have real concerns about the loss of the old news media.  Obviously there’s no single cause but the rise of new media, the Internet “no cost” expectation and the “now” culture are all taking the toll.    But what will be the cost to our society when we no longer have professional journalists?

What will happen to investigative journalism?  What will happen when hysterical but unfounded rumours sweep across the social networks?  How will politicians be held to account when there is no-one to report on their mistakes?  How much more easy will it be to cover stuff up?

I can’t think of a single other instance where it’s become acceptable for amateurs to take over the role of professionals.  Would you want an amateur doctor to treat you?  An amateur engineer to design a bridge?  An amateur firefighter to attend an emergency?  No, I want these people to study for years to become competent at what they do.  Why should journalism be any different?  Just because you can string a sentence together, doesn’t make you a journalist.

Now, you may think that it’s a bit rich coming from a blogger for a major new media site but to tie this back to the original news story, I think it genuinely points the way ahead.  We have to get away from old media v. new media, it has to be co-opetition not competition, symbiotic not parasitic, and we have to find a way to reward news organisations and professional journalists to keep doing what they’re doing.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know is that it will be social disaster if we lose professional journalists because we were too cheap to buy a newspaper.

One Comment

  1. From tomwiles at 12:47 am on July 15, 2010

    There are a number of issues that are causing the “old” media model to falter and break.

    A big part of the problem with “old” media is they have an “old” media mentality. At one time the simple fact that they were able to own million dollar printing presses, million dollar studios and million dollar transmitters gave them a bit of a monopoly and a bit of a guarantee that people would have to buy and/or consume their media product. Competition was limited by economy.

    That gave them the “gatekeeper” mentality — at one time, they could literally decide if a particular story was going to receive a lot of attention, or if it would be buried or perhaps not reported at all. Organizations establish something called “corporate culture.” Their corporate culture remains ingrained in their minds to this day they are the gatekeepers — they are in control of information, and by extension, popular opinions.

    The economics have radically changed along with the fact that the gate is gone because of the Internet. Yet, they still have the “gatekeeper” mentality. Here in the U.S. many major newspapers are still trying to control what gets emphasized and what becomes popular public opinion. The general public is now privy to all kinds of information, yet they see that the “old” media is still trying to ignore what are major stories. For a number of years now, every major scandal has started its life on a blog. In many cases the “old” media has been dragged kicking and screaming to be forced to report on the story.

    As a result, people are simply not buying the papers and are pulling the plug on the “old” media. They are too controlling, and a day late and a dollar short when it comes to pertinent information. I can get it NOW on my phone or computer or wait until tomorrow to perhaps see it in the paper. All major US papers have blatantly attempted to move their opinion page to the front page, and many people are simply fed up with what in many cases is simply propaganda.

    The media business is about content — content is king. Content, content, content. I believe if they get the content right regardless of how that content is delivered, it will be viable. If not, they deserve to die.