Has the paid journalist horse already left the barn?
I commuted into Manhattan for a summer job a long time ago when I was in school. Almost every commuter read the morning paper on their way in and the evening paper on their way out. Now commuters mostly read their phones. When the digital age first dawned, newspapers made a big mistake in giving away their content. They are now offering paid subscriptions to their content but are people already too used to getting their news from other sources?
Remember when everything you read in print had been verified by two sources? Now you must sort through what you read and consider the source carefully. Experienced news readers know how to do that, but what about our kids? In the age of being bombarded by information, it is imperative that we teach the next generations to be critical readers. News stories have always been shaped by the writer’s perspective, but when there is no established publisher behind the story it is harder to distinguish fact from opinion.
Good editing is also on the endangered list in this information revolution. I struggle with it in every piece I write, but at least I am cognizant of the dire need for it. More and more I appreciate the well written article. The good news is: there are still many out there. But the bad news is some stories out there are embarrassingly poorly written.
The electronic age also fosters the anonymous sniping comment. One very well written article I recently read online had terrible comments. Some of the commenters did not just disagree with the well reasearched and well documented opinion of the author — they made derogatory and downright nasty comments about the author personally. It’s effortless to be judgmental and rude under the cloak of anonymity with names like “terrils”, “CPod” and “Conductor 71”. And that rude opinion gets published immediately without having to establish the credentials of the commentator. Traditional Letters to the Editor have to be submitted under a real name and are vetted by the editor.
Onlookers video events as they happen long before the media arrives. Will professional photographers become too expenseive and unnecessary?
What happens when you no longer have journalists literally willing to risk their lives to get the truth of a story to the public? We will be at the mercy of who ever happend to be at the scene and learn only what they feel like telling us, in their own, sometimes poorly chosen, words. We have to make sure that journalism as we know it doesn’t disappear.
I’m closing the barn door.
© Jane F. Collen February 2, 2016