Response Blog #4 – Digital Journalism

Journalism has seen a dramatic change in the way news is captured and reported.  Gone are the days when we would anxiously rush home to see the evening’s news broadcast, read the newspaper, or listen to 1010 Wins.  Not to say that people no longer do those things, but there are so many other mediums that are quicker to access.  Traditional news mediums are seeing a decline in ratings as today, more and more people are going online to get their news.  As a result, news organizations are having to find new ways of providing information.  I agree with Brian Carroll in “Writing and Editing for Digital Media”, that social media is an integral and integrated source and channel of and for the news, yet it is also a floodgate to potential problems.

Remembering a time when there was no smart phones or online access seems virtually impossible.  The tools of journalism were typewriters and newspaper clippings. Today, digital technology and wireless connectivity has caused a shift in society and therefore, a shift in news gathering.  In this “always on” society, we have mediums such as YouTube, Google, Facebook, and Twitter, where viewers not only read and view the news but participate in its content.  Never before have we had so many civilians photographers who immediately send in their snapshots after an event has just happened and instantly, it’s available for airing.

As said best by Nilay Patel, Verge’s editor, “Every story is a technology story; every technology story is a culture story.”  That is to say, our culture has saturated our stories and has shaped our perception. Therefore, different cultures perceive things differently and that affects how we translate and transmit what we see and hear.  Now for the journalist, that creates a credibility issue and often leads to poor writing and biased reporting.  In addition, anonymity is accepted more readily online than in mainstream news media.

That leads to the question: How should professional journalist use this new media to research and publish stories that holds up to the integrity of the story?  Traditionally, we put our trust in news organizations to bring us the facts, but digital technology has transformed the way news is told and has made it harder to verify accuracy.  While Photoshop and other imaging programs have made it easy to modify and enhance photos, information received from regular citizens may not be factually correct. Yet, journalist are still expected to be professional and are beholden to ethical and moral rules of practice.

These challenges pose serious problems in a society that expects instant news and analysis.  In order to help in this area, crowd sourcing is used as a way to extend the reporter’s eyes and ears into the community and beyond.  Sharing sources enables news organizations to cover more stories in depth and develops more accuracy in reporting.  By using mediums such as Twitter as a way to verify information, reporters can use a collective knowledge to get to the truth.  For example, it is much safer for a reporter to get tweets from Iran or Syria than to be there in person. 

Ultimately, journalist still need to know how to write, take photos, use blogs, podcast, and expertly analyze stories. What’s different is that they now share a space no longer exclusive to them. They are now part of a large collaboration of people operating on a social communications platform and we, who as citizens, without any formal training in journalism, are engaged in the writing, editing, publishing, and reading stories, and must critically view them.

“Mediated Me”

In Chapter 1 “Mediated Me” examined many aspects of how digital literates affect our human existence. Throughout the chapter, I found myself asking many questions, questions I’d never once considered. There is an emotional impact that technology has had on each of our lives that we are not necessarily aware of. The themes that are prominent throughout the chapter are creating deep relationships, the way technologies have the ability to change how we think, the impact it has on the “being” and it’s moral implications. I’ve always imagined that technology has provided an opportunity for men and women to create “tools” to make life simpler but now I realize that it doesn’t end there. The technologies that are being created have essentially stripped us from our once ethical nature and created a world filled with more complexities than what we could have ever imagined.

The chapter also sparks the idea that maybe the world was created with a dichotomy idea and it was only through technology/tools we have come to realize it. But how did it all start? It started with writing, without the invention of writing, humans would never have evolved to what we are today. The evolution of tools and technologies have brought us to where we are today. Many can argue that there is good and bad to those tools however, I believe everything was created with a dichotomous intention. Maybe the entire world was built upon opposing forces and through writing we are able to recognize those characteristics. Even as I am typing, there is someone who will not agree with my view and maybe that is the way it is meant to be.  With our dichotomous views, we also have the conflict of our social identities that are being constantly challenged. Our egos are being reinforced and being rejected by digital media, it is a vicious cycle that we are all a part of whether or not we choose to partake in it. We cannot escape the inevitable of succumbing to new forms of tools/digital technologies because they have become an extension of us, as Mumford says.

I wonder if there was ever a time of not having to “present” ourselves to one another. Was there ever a time that humans did not wear a social mask, or have the need to have “tools/things” establish validation for themselves and the likes of others. I guess we will never know. . .


Several months ago I wrote a post titled “Traces,” which takes a look at the traces we leave on the internet.