Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Online News: Devaluing Journalism?

Could this be the death of quality journalism?If you hear few sobs over the gradual demise of quality journalism, it may be because these days the public has been conditioned to undervalue it. The internet encourages “lazy” news consumption, while virtually wiping out any meaningful differences between newspaper brands.
Many blame newspapers' cost-cutting decisions, but the finger eventually points back to consumer behaviour. We're moving more to obtaining news and information on-line, abandoning traditional forms of news supply.
The reality is that journalistic quality is NOT the lifeblood of most news outfits it once was. People now expect their news fast and free, but that comes at a price – often paid for by low overheads, slashes in news quality, depth and diversity. And it's a race to sustain operations by attracting advertising dollars, which risks news quality. For how does a supplier attract advertising dollars? By getting high traffic numbers, or essentially, popularity.
Are consumers really prepared to sacrifice a strong fourth estate? Information illuminates dark corners of our world, informing us of things we don't know and things we don't even know we don't know. We need information, but will a thumbnail sketch suffice?
What's the answer to sustaining serious journalism, with today's tough times and trends? Has society already crossed the Rubicon in expecting free quick news? Won’t busy consumers choose quick information sources that offer shallow, brief coverage at no cost? Is this devaluing serious journalism? Can we do anything about it now at all?
PS: 6 Aug.2009 - Well, well, well...looks like Rupert Murdoch intends to do something all right!  By next summer the media mogul plans to charge for on-line news! Click here for all the details.
PS: 3 Dec.2009 - Rupert Murdoch is still working hard, trying to persuade others to charge for internet news! But is anyone else listening?
PS: 2 July 2010 - Murdoch's finally done it: London's The Times has finally switched on its pay wall. Will the ratings tumble?

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