The Life or Death of Journalism

I was watching CNN the other day and an assortment of journalists was holding a press conference.  Side thought, if the journalists are holding the press conference, then who was covering it?  Anyways, the topic was amateur journalism versus professional journalism.  These professional journalists were primarily bashing the world wide web’s near infinite assortment of online bloggers that consider themselves to be journalists.

I listened with interest for a while in interest, and at first I was slightly irritated at them attacking the world wide web as a news source.  My primary turn off was the fact that these journalists said that there was no way that a person doing it in their free time could possibly gather as much accurate information as someone who is paid to do so for a living.  This irritated me as I believe that someone can do something far better if there are doing it because of genuine interest and passion or because they were being paid.  I initially thought that these journalists were complaining that their job market was disappearing and they may have to go seek other means of employment.

The more I listened to these journalists, the more I saw that loosing pay wasn’t their entire point; I refuse to believe that it wasn’t at least part of it.  The journalists started to discuss how much time they spend building a foundation of resources, leads, and verification points on top of the fact that someone else goes behind them and rechecks these stories for credible sources and accuracy.  They mentioned that only a full time journalist has the time to invest into a story in order to ensure that they exhaust all resources available before actually writing the story.

I feel that I agree with these individuals that were telling their story and presenting the issue of reliable journalism.  I also agree that amateur journalists are equally important.  Every newspaper has its own vendetta.  Every person with an urge to write about something also has their own vendetta.  So how do we sift through the corporate and individual vendettas?  We utilize both resources.  I generally use professional news outlets as my primary door into the topics of what’s going on in the world today.  When I find a story that intrigues me or covers a topic that I have interest in, then I google or bing it.  I am more wary of online bloggers than I am of large media outlets because there is no one editing the bloggers.  A blogger can blatantly write that I am a hermaphrodite, and there’s no editor sitting their asking what piece of medical evidence there is to support such a claim; I am not one, it is simply an example. 

We have to learn to be speculative of both sources as we look for the truth in things.  Don’t just accept that XYZ media mogel says it so it’s true and there’s no other facts that are relevant, and don’t accept that what the dude sitting as his laptop at Starbucks is typing either.  I do back these journalists and agree that it would be a sad day if professional journalism ceased to be a profession in this upcoming economy as we do need someone that will research a topic for 60+ hours in one week.
-KevinKMJr

KevinKMJr is a guest writer on projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “The Life or Death of Journalism

  1. davidrsheehan

    Personally, I think the issue is not whether or not “professionals” are better than “amateurs” at anything. There’s a reason certain individuals are doing what they’re doing at a professional level – they’re, on the whole, more knowledgeable and capable at the given task. This is not to say that an individual amaetur can’t be better than more or all the professionals… but amateurs (note the plural) are not.

    The real issue is the industry. Journalism is too aligned with traditional print. Just as the auto industry is tanking because it didn’t look to the future and try to innovate, so the print journalism industry is tanking and losing its efficacy in the face of… you guess it… the future and innovation (namely, the internet).

    The reality is, whether it’s a newspaper or an online newspaper, not everyone is a good writer. Not everyone is a professional editor. So journalism (the field of writing professionally about worldly subjects) isn’t going away when bloggers and amateurs write online. It isn’t fading when kids hop onto wikipedia to get their information rather than getting a book.

    No, what’s making journalism recede in importance is journalism’s own willingness to embrace alternate outlets. Don’t complain about people getting incorrect information from blogs – get the correct content onto websites. Don’t bitch that publication sales are down – transition your business to account for ebooks and other online publications – they still require someone to write and edit and proof and check them.

    This transition would have the added benefit of removing one of the annoying things these “professional journalists” do (because I bet in their haste to argue that amateurs can’t do the background checking professionals can, said professionals didn’t mention all the shit they write that isn’t extensively checked – like when they write crappy ass articles about “breaking news”). Instead of focusing on shotgunned, “breaking news” that bounces around from stupid topic to stupid topic, they could take the time they’re saving by not having to wait for shit to print and be sent out to pursue more meaningful topics, rather than fixating on what the Obamas will name their dog.

    They have

  2. KevinKMJr

    I do apologize as my article ended up getting rushed much more than I had anticipated. My point was not over the media used but rather the source of the article to begin with. I whole heartily agree that internet media should have taken the place of print media some time ago. Not as a whole, mind you, but at least as the main stream source.

    As far as my main point was concerned, being professional versus amateur, there is still more to look at.

    Yes, an amateur has access to all of the same resources that a professional does, but no, they are not as commonly utilized. Typically, amateur writing consists of someone writing about what they feel that their side of the story is. Most of these writers have no motivation to write about both sides of the story, just theirs. No one else gets to proof read or fact check any of the information before or after it is published on the web. If their story proves to be false, no real penalty is suffered other than a possible loss of readers. The strong point, however, that an amateur journalist has over a professional is pure passion. Because it’s not about making a buck, the amateur journalist has to have a strong inner reason to write the story that they have written.

    Yes, a professional journalist is paid by someone else to write what that papers ‘powers that be’ consider to be newsworthy. Typically, a professional’s editor will do very little fact checking before a story is published unless it is an outlandish story. Often, each publication does have a stance or position that can be read into in it’s pages an opinions. Thankfully, there are several publications to chose from. The professional journalist’s reasoning for ensuring that they do thorough fact checking on their own is a very simple one. They will loose the financial compensation that they use to pay for the living expenses of themselves and their families. Journalism isn’t the highest paying job, moist journalist chose the profession because of a passion for the story to begin with.

    Each of these sources have their pros and cons. Personally, I will stick with professional journalism as my primary source of news. As stories peek my interest, I will look for stories written by other publications that have different stances and alignments, and then I will look to the world wide web to locate and join discussions on a topic.

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