Power to the people

November 2, 2008 at 4:06 pm (new age journalism) ()

Journalism and the way that we may have envisaged the profession in the past no longer exists. Power has now reached the public in ways that has not been seen before and a new age of influence has arisen.

This debate between Jimmy Wales and Andrew Keen make some of the major an very interesting points on the developments of new technology and the effect on modern journalism.

They highlight the issue of the effect of advertising of newspapers, which is leading to the decline as well as the impact on user generated content. Journalists are worried, and perhaps they should be, as newspapers are going into decline, a frightening prospect if they are not willing to adapt and change with progressive techonology.

It may seem like the journalists are no longer in control, the blanace of power has shifted and those that once may have been ignored are not sitting in the contol seat. I would agree that there has been a shift in power, but I think there is still a difference in the quality of output between citizens and the public and journalists are still needed. As they say in this debate “it is in our hands.”

The perception of a loss of control and the rise in the use of the internet by consumers is risky for both journalism and companies. Journalists now feel the pressure to make their work better, which is not a bad thing, competition can be an advantage. Companies now have to make sure their projects are better quality as one review on the internet can have so much power and influence that their whole reputations could be at stake. Dell computer company was a victim of this when news of their exploding batteries was spread around the internet so quickly that their reputation was damaged within days.

Now that 60% of people who have the internet are using social networking sites, so their words and opinions can stretch further than before to far more people. Myspace has more than 100 million users monthly around the world, and Facebook has 60 million with a 3% increase every week.

Tom Schmidt argues that the internet is nothing unless used creatively by both the public and by corporations and the media to keep their integrity.  He says disruptive technology creates new opportunities despite threatening the status quo. This is true, and proves the point that the organisations that will survive are the ones who use the internet to their advantage.

Activists are a particular example of those who have benefited from these developments. Organisations such as Greenpeace have used it to their advantage. Through internet communication Greenpeace have become a major publisher and their influence is bigger than it could have been through traditional campaigning.

The faster technology has become, the faster news has also become. We no longer have to wait for the news or tomorrow’s newspapers to find out about an event, stories can be broken on the internet where the public have instant access and can also participate in it. Robert Preston’s blog is a great example of this, as he uses his blog to break news stories which then allows him to dictate the news agenda for the rest of the day, showing how powerful a blog can be.

However there are always drawbacks. Blogs are not regulated and do not have editors amending them before they are published. This can lead to misinformation and therefore can be a dangerous medium.

As with all developments, the internet has its pro’s and con’s. The future of what it can do for the media is yet to be seen, however, if the pro’s outweigh the con’s it would be hard to argue that it is a bad thing.


1 Comment

  1. egrommet said,

    I think it is overstating it a bit to say one review has all that power – it is down to the link economy, the people who think that is important for other people to find.

    I always think of the product recall scene from Fightclub when I think about this sort of thing. It might be exaggerated, but companies had to make an economic decision. Now those of us with web access can tell (potentially) everyone else what has happened – it is the link economy that makes it work and findable.

    Transparency is clearly an issue here, and for journalists. Have a look at this post about the Liverpool Post video streaming/casting its editorial meetings.

    All media can contain errors, sites like http://www.regrettheerror.com wouldn’t exist if they didn’t. And there was a study done by a journal looking at Britannica and Wikipedia – wikipedia fared better than you would expect, and the mistakes pointed out were rectified very quickly. Britannica would have to wait for the next print run.

    The key is still to ensure that what we do is as good as it can be, we need to rectify errors and ensure that comments are treated with the respect they deserve. And then maybe blogs can be seen to be more pro than con.

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