Unlike print journalism, where some care must be taken in determining what is and isn’t news, or what is or isn’t a well-thought out argument, online journalism is a mad dash to say as much as you can as quickly as you can. Jon Green
This quote by Green from his article When ‘saying it first’ becomes more important than ‘getting it right’ refers to the development of online journalism towards a rather superficial medium. He claims that journalists are increasingly neglecting their task as a provider of relevant information, while posting irrelevant articles with inappropriately boosting titles. Additionally, it seems that many online journalists do not check the source of their information, in order to be the first one to post. As a result, the Web is swamped by numerous articles that fail to give us anything but disappointed expectations.
Is this what online journalism is going to transform into in the future? How can reliable and informative online journalism survive on digital platforms?
We have two opportunities: Either, journalism turns into a different kind of information service, and will provide us with very different kinds of information than we’re used to now. Or, we change our consumer behaviour. Because the fact is that we determine which kind of information is spread and which is not. The same counts for print journalism: The one newspaper that gets purchased most will have more potential to rise and to distribute information. Now, we are the ones to decide which information should take a major part in our lives. We can choose between the void of flashy articles that leave us sitting in front of the screen with less knowledge than before, and the kind of information that inspires us to think and process the information we acquired.
As it is, this is only my lay opinion on the matter. Another perspective is offered by the paper Innovation and the Future of Journalism, which argues on the basis of the statement Innovation is the key. John V. Pavlik, creator of the mentioned paper, claims that it is essential to be innovative in order to make a new approach to news providing work. According to Pavlik, innovation in news media plays an important role in the following four spheres:
• creating, delivering and presenting quality news content
• engaging the public in an interactive news discourse
• employing new methods of reporting optimized for the digital, networked age
• developing new management and organizational strategies for a digital, networked and mobile environment
This theory is helpful to make us understand on which levels innovation works. But what is even more important, and could give us a possible answer to the original question How can journalism survive on digital platforms?, is Pavlik’s next assumption. He states that there are four major principles that should define the character of innovation for news media, namely:
• intelligence & research
• commitment to freedom of speech
• dedication to the pursuit of truth & accuracy in reporting
These key points give us, as a reader, a good understanding of the fields that are important for the future of online journalism. We could even assume that being innovative and thorough in Pavlik’s four aspects could give the respective medium of online journalism a long-term chance to survive on the Web.
To conclude this post, I’d like to come back to my initial approach on how to make online journalism survive. In comparison to Pavlik’s ideas, my call for awareness on the side of the audience might be in vain. I mean, who would really ignore all the sparkling, fast-paced articles, and fix their eyes on meaningful ones? And who actually knows which articles can be trusted and which not?
This is an important matter, and luckily we’ll deal with it in the next post. I will try to bring you closer to some means to verify the information we get served everyday. Until then, I wish you the best of luck to escape empty journalism!