The rise of the Internet and the fall of Journalism

The development of the Internet was the result of some visionary thinking by some unique people in the 1960’s. The main purpose of the Internet back then was to serve engineers, scientists, librarians and computer experts.

There were no home or office computers in those days; it was only for a lucky few. Nevertheless for those who did use the advanced machine had to learn a very complex system. Then in 1971, email arrived and the rest as they say is history.

Digital World The Internet has introduced things like blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Podcasting and citizen journalism to the world. It has enhanced the resources available to journalists.

However it is not sunshine and lollypops for everyone there are some significant consequences that come from the Internet, for example will journalism survive the online revolution?

From the beginning newspapers have prospered for one reason: the trust that comes from representing their reader’s interests and giving them the news that’s important to them. Which means covering the communities where they live, exposing government or business corruption and standing up to the rich and powerful.

Technology now allows us to do this on a much greater scale.

Journalism is changing around the globe and the change seems to have accelerated in the last 10 years. Since the start of the new millennium we have seen the spread of media convergence, the arrival of citizen journalism, a boom in the number of blogs and other publishing forms such as moblogs, podcasts, wikis and the spread of multimedia forms of reporting.

All journalism today involves a computer. Regardless of whether you write for a newspaper, an online site or for a television or radio newscast.

The iPhone Revolution

Nicholas Tomalin a Sunday Times writer who died in 1973 reporting from the Golan Heights famously said the only qualities essential for real success in journalism are rat-like cunning, a plausible manner and a little literary ability.

But if Tomalin were commissioned now, he would strike out that famous strategy and start again.

Today, you need luck, flair, an alternative source of income, endless patience, an optimistic disposition and an in depth knowledge on everything that is multi-media. But the essential quality for success now is surely tenacity.

When I was in grade 6 we were asked to complete a project on what we wanted to do when we grew up, and ever since then my goal in life was to become a journalist. But as I go through university, completing numerous projects about the affects of the Internet on journalism and the thinning newsrooms, I begin to wonder if I will ever be able to say the words I have so longed for ‘I am a journalist’.

Will I ever get the chance to do what I have dreamt about since I was little? My answer to this has changed nearly every time I have answered it, but I think that this maybe one of the most exciting times in history to become a journalist. Those entering the 21st century journalism are entering the profession at the most exciting time in history.

There has always been a link between technology and journalism. Journalism was changed forever by the invention of the printing press, the telegraph, the telephone, radio, television and computers.

But since the early 90’s it has changed more then any other time in history. The Internet, World Wide Web, email, digital mobile phones, digital photography and the ongoing impact of new technology have driven the considerable change of journalism.

Online news

For anyone who has not noticed yet we are living in one of the most amazing times in the history of the world, in my opinion. We are creatures of the Information Age and Communications Revolution.

Never before has so much information been available to so many people.

Americans already favor the Internet as their main source of news and information. In a recent survey Zogby International published reports of two major polls on how Americans got their news and what sources they most trusted.

Zogby asked which of the four primary information sources was most reliable. More than twice as many people chose the Internet (37 per cent) ahead of television (17 per cent), newspapers (16 per cent) and radio (13 per cent).

The Internet allows people to seek information from thousands of blogs, aggregators and social networks, and to migrate to those that share their point of view.

The information received may originate from the same old media, but it is wrapped in designer packaging that matches personal tastes and ideologies.

Any journalist who uses the Internet is doing a form of computer-assisted reporting, after all journalism is about working with information and the Internet is one of the world’s single largest sources of information.

Mike Game the Chief officer of Fairfax Digital noted how people were turning to the Internet for breaking news. ‘The Internet’s great strength was its ability to attract people during the day for short grabs’.

What is happening is a revolution in the way young people are accessing news. They don’t want to rely on the morning paper for their up to date information.

Instead they want news on demand, when it works for them they want control over the media, instead of being controlled by it.

Online Papers

This article ‘Journalism students’ don’t read papers’, shows the change.

When I sit down at the computer I have a routine. I go to The Herald Sun website first and then The Age. It’s what I do every day, checking the news I want to know about.

However, now that I think about it, I choose what I want to read in the newspaper to, but the underlying message that comes from this is that with the use of the Internet you can now get your news from anywhere, with no reliance on just the newspaper. Here are the four biggest developments from the Internet that has affected Journalism:

Blogs:


Blogger Hat A blog is a personal diary. A daily stage. A collaborative space. A political soapbox. A breaking-news outlet. A collection of links. Your own private thoughts. Memos to the world.

It is what I am writing now. It is an updated version of a diary. A blog is whatever you want it to be.

There are millions of them, in all shapes and sizes, and there are no real rules. In simple terms, a blog is a web site, where you write stuff on an ongoing basis. New stuff shows up at the top, so your visitors can read what’s new.

Then they comment on it or link to it or email you. Or not.

Since Blogger was launched in 1999, blogs have reshaped the web, impacted politics, shaken up journalism, and enabled millions of people to have a voice and connect with others.

Blogs are social in nature, like podcasting and face booking they represent a part of the media revolution known as social networking.

This Youtube clip, ‘Blogs in plain english‘, explains the use of blogs.

Podcasting:

Podcasting involves making an audio file usually in MP3 format of content that is updated frequently for example a weekly radio program which is available for automatic download so users can listen to the file at their convenience.

podcasting

This is just another way in which people across the world can voice their opinions.

The Internet has brought the world closer together, and journalistic stories can now be made into a podcast and audiences can listen to them whenever the want.

Citizen Journalism:

Many news organisations now invite audiences to contribute to stories. Citizen journalism allows news organisations to harness the creative spirit of these new media forms to produce better journalism.

As with blogs, it was a major news event that highlighted the potential for user-generated content.

The July 2005 bombings of a bus and underground Tube in London was the catalyst for the acceptance of images and stories from the scenes of the carnage. Photographs by amateurs with mobile phones and digital cameras provided the bulk of the pictorial coverage of the bombings. Underground Bombing

However the spread of citizen journalism has raised several concerns. Probably the biggest issue is gaining the trust of readers and maintaining credibility.

This Youtube clip, exposes the Power of Citizen Journalism.

Twitter:

Twitter is a brand new way of communicating with people and useful tool for journalists. Whether it’s breaking news, a local traffic jam, a deal at your favorite shop or a funny pick-me-up from a friend, Twitter keeps you informed with what matters most and it is another valuable source for journalists to use.

Either conducting research or making contacts, Twitter can help make better decisions and creates another platform for people to influence what is being talked about around the world.

Twitter can give a voice to even the weakest signals because of its simplicity. Users can access Twitter on powerful broadband connections via a video game console or through faint connections in rural areas via SMS.

Twitter_256x256

I think the most important factor when talking about Twitter and the influence of the Internet is that people are now realizing that it is completely up to them in how they choose to get there news, or talk about issues that affect them.

On Twitter you can follow hundreds of people, follow dozens, post every hour or never post at all. The aim of Twitter is that you are in control.

This article ‘In the Age of Real Time, Twitter is Walter Cronkite, explains how Twitter has affected the news.

This article ‘10 stories that broke on Twitter first‘, shows just how powerful this new medium is.

The Internet has also helped journalists conduct research. If I don’t know what something is, I Google it.  When you don’t know how something works or need a quick answer to a question then what do you do? Google it.

That is the norm for everyone and now with the Internet it is now the norm for journalists too. However there are some doubts on conducting research online.

The problem is that anyone can put anything on the web, and it may or may not be accurate and it might or might not be put online by an expert or someone who just has a vested interest in a topic.

The point is, the use of the Internet as purely as a research tool could be a dangerous thing. With the rise of the Internet there has been a fall in newspapers.

The newspaper industry is crippling. Circulation figures from all over the world, even Australia is down as audiences are now turning to the Internet for the daily dose of information.

So what will the future bring?

In 20 years time will there be newspapers or will everything be online?

The business model of mainstream journalism failed to capitalize on the rise of the Internet, but now the advent of Smartphone and tablet PC apps may be giving the industry a second chance.

However News Corporation chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch last year announced that his company will charge readers to access online content within a year. Money

Murdoch revealed the plan during the announcement of News Corp’s full-year earnings. “Quality journalism is not cheap, and an industry that gives away its content is simply cannibalising its ability to produce good reporting,” he said. “The digital revolution has opened many new and inexpensive distribution channels but it has not made content free. We intend to charge for all our news websites.” Read more here.

On the contrary why would people pay to see online content that other wise they would get for free. There is no doubt that the current business model has failed. Murdoch’s grand plan may work or it may fail miserably.

I believe that people should embrace online journalism. New media only exists due to old media. We as people have evolved over time and things inevitably change.

Newspapers

The future of journalism belongs to the bold and the companies that prosper will be those who find new and better ways to meet the needs of their viewers, listeners and readers.

We need to realise that the next generation of people accessing news and information, whether from newspapers or any other news source have a different set of expectations about the kind of news they will get. Including when and how they will get it, where they will get it from and most importantly whom they will get it from.

I believe newspapers will not die, they will continue to be apart of society. People want to know about the world and whether they get there information from a newspaper or an iPhone, it doesn’t matter. The most important part is that the people still want the news.

The Future

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