With the advent of bloggers, there has been a shift in the ratio of those presenting the news and those analyzing it. Since anyone can publish her opinion on the Web, the balance is tipping towards more news editorials and analyses, and reporting the facts has become the task of the minority.
That’s fine. Not everyone needs to write similar stories on the same event. Subscribers can run wire stories and the rest can link. Then it’s open season for bloggers and journalists to connect the dots and add relative information to give context
It’s almost as if we’ve ushered in the Age of the Columnists. Every journalist who ever dreamed of unleashing her subjectivity should grab a keyboard and opine away.
The point that needs be stressed is that adapting such information mechanisms should be in addition to newswriting, especially since consumers can find links in their purest form elsewhere:
- Readers now can go straight to the source for the “hard facts”, which means lazy journalists’ newswriting can no longer regurgitate the press releases, but neither should they rely on the equally lazy option of simply adding a link.
- News aggregate Web sites are already in existence, and Internet users can subscribe to RSS feeds if a list of links is all they desire, so mainstream media should differentiate themselves by contributing their news expertise.
- Wiki journalism also relies heavily on linking, and like linking, it should be used by the media only to bolster its value as a news source. This is because news is real time, but the wiki concept is, as Daniel Conover puts it, “a curated form of search… a non-news based method of keeping up with developing information.” Conover further writes:
Typical news organizations shun this kind of thinking as “not news. They will soon retire that attitude. Since zapping in and out of topics is the way most informed people acquire information, creating and curating not only databases but high-quality topic articles will be one of the most significant journalism jobs of the future. Again, this will not be instead of news writing, but in addition to newswriting. The best news sources (BBC) already perform this function, often in real time.
Objectivity has not been marginalized. To what, then, would the news analysts link their readers? Journalists are encouraged, rather, not to editorialize in their analyses, but to contextualize. The Internet is already saturated with opinionated blogs and comments, and it is still the news reporter’s job to stick to the facts.