The Future of Journalism article discusses the growing trends in journalism and examines the current crisis it is currently in. Traditional newspapers are closing and many believe this signals the end of journalism as we know it.

However, some people think the so-called crisis journalism is in might be the best thing to ever happen to it.

Some consider this crisis as a sort of “purgative”. They believe the financial problems and sacking of journalists cleanses the field. Radical millenarians, as James Curran calls them, believe traditional news media only serves to promote the “overdog” and is a threat to true democracy. With traditional journalism being challenged, an opportunity is born for more progressive reporting to begin that were unable to gain footing when leading media conglomerates controlled the field.

More liberal journalism educators believe we are experiencing a news media renaissance for several reasons.

  1. Old media journalism is only being enriched by the Internet. Journalists now have easy access to lots of information they were unable to so freely find before and can incorporate more news sources into their stories.
  2. Web-based journalism is seeing an “efflorescence” as a result of the Internet. Bloggers, citizen journalists, and Web-based start-ups are a good thing. With more people reporting news, there will be more information and analysis as 3opposed to the monopoly created by old news media.
  3. Old and new journalism will come together to create a pro-am (professional-amateur partnership”. This leads to network journalism where members of the public help create the stories. Instead of news coming from only gatekeeper institutions, it is now more open-ended and reciprocal.

This has led to a paradigm shift of news reporting from an industrial model to a networked model based on individual and organized journalistic practices. Media conglomerates do not determine the news anymore in a top-down fashion; the public does in a bottom-up form through the Internet.

The shift in journalism also has affected advertising. Since people are starting to get their news online more than from the newspaper or TV, Internet advertising is dominating because of how cheap and far-reaching it can be.

The article also touches on the fact that traditional journalism is not always as accurate as many believe it to be, considering journalists have to write to short deadlines and report on things they may not be experts on. Curran uses the example of the reason the U.S. invaded Iraq because of the possibility of Saddam Hussein possessing weapons of mass destruction. Since it was widely accepted by official leaders at the time, the news media did not scrutinize this claim as critically as they could have.

Discussion Questions

  1. Do you believe journalism is moving in a positive direction where ordinary people have the power to shape the future, or is this shift away from traditional news norms a bad thing?
  2. What are some of the ways that we as members of the public could play a part in creating the news?

The Pew Center article summarized the ways that people are getting their news online. It has been shown that most Americans get some kind of news online during a typical day, but there is confusion in how best to measure the count. What is the most important way to measure it? Is it the total amount of unique visitors, the number of page views, time per visit, etc.?

Online news is continually moving forward. Many people now get news on their cell phones and even use social networking sites for news. New forms of communication are constantly being taken advantage of by people who want to get their news in the easiest, most convenient way.

As the public moves ahead with their quest to find news in different ways, players in the media sector are trying to figure out whether to work together or stay competitive. Americans are using digital technology to acquire news from several different platforms. These people are called “news grazers” who graze from online to TV to print to find news.

Economic models are being questioned as news media organizations are trying to figure out the best way to replace revenue lost from other sectors. Many sites are online only, and direct users to news instead of providing it themselves. The difference between popularity and social importance is a complicated and relevant issue that news organizations are trying to solve.

Discussion Question:

  1. How do you get your news? Has the way you find news changed in the last few years, months, weeks, etc? How?


Clay Shirky focuses on the prevalence of “user generated content”  from social media sites in his book Here Comes Everybody. Shirky states that this is not “just the output of ordinary people with access to creative tools like word processors…it requires access to re-creative tools as well…that provide those same people with the ability to distribute their creations to others” (83). He cites Livejournal, Youtube, Myspace, Flickr, and Xanga as examples.

While I wouldn’t necessarily consider this to be “online journalism,” Shirky does provide a good foundation for further exploring said journalism. He juxtaposes the “neatness of traditional media” vs. “messiness of social media,” which I feel is the exact combination of these popular online journalism sites (96).

10 Responses to “The “Crisis” of Journalism… (Summary)”

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I’m not really sure how to look at the future of journalism. I used to find it sad to think that the days of newspapers and magazines were in decline, and that soon everyone would only get their news from blogs and tweets. But after some of these readings and our discussions in class so far about open source and the power of community, I feel that news “by the people” might not be the worst thing. The idea of getting rid of the gate keeper and allowing people help find and tell the stories seems wonderful. After all, the news should be providing information that people are interested in. Also, with so many people involved in each story, the public will be able to view the issue from all sides. Each source (newspaper, blog, radio, tv, etc.) may be telling the story from a different perspective, thus informing the public on a deeper level than ever before.

    On the flip side, with so many points of view out there, people may choose to narrowly focus in only on one. People don’t just look at the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and thing this is the liberal side and this is the conservative. Now there are a million different people saying different things, it can get confusing.

    Also, with the loss of a gatekeeper, people may only look at the news they are interested in as opposed to what they should/need to know about. I wonder if the public had less control over the news, would Charlie Sheen be such a huge deal right now? Our tweets and status updates are definitely keeping the story afloat. Maybe with a gatekeeper, someone could have turned this story off by now.

  2. mdeseriis says:

    Danielle, we are reading about the crisis and future of journalism in two weeks. Please re-post this summary on March 20.

  3. Kevin says:

    I feel like, as with any new form of acquiring information, the industry is adjusting and adapting to get through this crisis. While I believe it is beneficial to the readers to be able to contribute their own information and have many sources to turn to in obtaining news, there can be a backlash in the form of information overload. If there are a large numbers of news outlets, whether professional or amateur, people do not always know which ones to turn to and which are more reliable. However, if people have the motivation, ability, and opportunity to sift through and find the news source they prefer, then they will benefit from having many options.
    The notion that traditional organizations are suffering from free, online new sources, is starting to change. The Wall Street Journal already requires readers to subscribe to its website to access online content. Now, the New York Times is starting to adapt to that method, announcing that starting March 28, readers, to an extent, will have to subscribe to receive the online version of the newspaper. ( I feel that this is the direction most major publications will start to adapt in order to survive against the influx of amateur journalism. So, just as any industry, journalism is fluctuating, and should be able to respond in this new age of technology and publishing.

  4. danjones says:

    Curran makes a really excellent point in his piece- just sitting back and trying to predict the future of journalism isn’t enough. These aren’t magical, uncontrollable, unaccountable forces we’re dealing with here. The future of how we create, transmit, and receive the news will be what we make it. Of course, those currently benefiting from the market system of information will try and maintain a fundamentally commercial system within the networked context, and have a lot of support and power behind them. However, some things are out of their control- Curran brings up the transition to the Internet as one example. Just because the Internet hasn’t automatically created a sustainable and consistently useful system of community-based, non-commercial journalism of professional caliber doesn’t mean that it hasn’t opened the space for that kind of venture. I also think it’s important to not limit ourselves to thinking that Internet journalism isn’t successful or can’t be influential if it doesn’t have mass readership. Communities of practice and belief can form networks of “journalistic activity” that are materially useful in cohering a group for real-world action. The mass nature of journalism, I’d argue, is a part of the same set of economic imperatives that created the profession as such. With the de-professionalization of journalism made possible (although certainly not guaranteed) by new media technologies, the idea of mass readership doesn’t have to be tied to “success” anymore. Internet journalism can succeed on its own terms, because they aren’t necessarily commercial ones.

  5. Jessica Yu says:

    Many people in the print media industry has been saying print is dying, newspaper and magazine business are going to die with the rise of internet, and information become more readily available. However, I think it’s true from the reading that internet and news will be able to work and co-exist together. Journalism can adapt and move towards a positive direction. There will be a change in the definition of journalism, one that includes internet and public participation. Most recently, I realized I check NYT or other professional new sources less. Now, I simply check my news feed on my Facebook or my Twitter, and I will know what’s going on in the world. So there definitely is also a shift in how people get their news. It’s changing to a time where instead of us finding news, the news come to us.

  6. msmith says:

    Until recently, my parents subscribed to the NYTimes. It arrived every morning on our doorstep and ended up splayed across the kitchen table. Squabbles over the crossword puzzle or the front section were not uncommon. Reading the news was a communal affair. Conversations about current events were easy to navigate even when we disagreed – we’d read the same stories, so we were operating on a level playing field. One day that changed. The NYTimes suddenly seemed no longer worth the expense. It could be read for free online in the back of a cab, at the office, on an ipad while at the gym. Not much of a surprise. They were in line with the vast majority of their peers who, faced with the recession and increased internet access, opted out of their paper subscriptions. But they didn’t just migrate to a different platform. Their media consumption patterns changed entirely. In a single day, they might read a few articles from the NYTimes, but also material from the WSJ, Huffington Post, a slew of left-leaning blogs, an op-ed from Al-Jazeera, watch a video on the BBC, and tune in to Democracy Now. They diversified their portfolio, so to speak.

    Which leads me to wonder whether the NYTimes paid online access is both too late and out of touch. With the abundance of free sources and a pre-existing pattern of diverse consumption, why would even the most discerning news consumer opt in? Certainly some will, but the vast majority won’t. They’ll have no need. The NYTimes will invariably appear to have been forcing a square peg in a round hole – imposing the old rules on a new system.

  7. Kristen Kim says:

    I choose to read my news online because it’s free and I usually end up wasting my subscription because I have days when I won’t even open the paper. However, my parents are still very much traditional media people. I hope the two can coexist; at this point, I’m not sure what the future of journalism is. The internet provides faster publishing, of course, and the ability to edit misinformation. But I think the newspaper will be here to stay (for just a while longer at least). Do you think this will lead to more and more paid subscription to online journalism?

  8. janakalnina says:

    I really find it intriguing that new journalism has a newfound power of shaping what we consider news. It’s a great thing that the traditional media landscape is changing. I am personally an avid promoter of change, and am glad that technology has enabled the masses to enter a very private realm. It drives competition to journalism, making journalists compete with other online writers and therefore produce pieces of higher quality – otherwise why should we buy newspapers if we can read it for free on a blog?

    As for creating news, I can definitely see how blogs with a large amount of readers would have a default ability of creating news out of “random” pieces of information. Large traffic yields to high circulation of content which fuels the concept of created news. So online media ‘people” have a unique freedom of essentially “telling” their readers what is important judging by the amount of views their site receives (thus influencing a wider demographic).

  9. Hannah Satzke says:

    I find this shift in the model of journalism to be positive, especially in a time when the powers of traditional media ownership have become so concentrated. The timing of citizen journalism seems to be right, just in time to counteract the hegemonic model before it becomes too powerful. It is important for news to be diverse and for people to get their news from various sources. That also means that it is essential for people to refer to multiple sources in order to get a well rounded understanding of an issue or event. However, this can be timely and worth a lot of effort. Yet in my opinion, online journalism is better than not having online journalism. I think it has a good impact on the way we get our news and even on the way traditional news sources get their material.

    This does not mean that traditional media will die out entirely. I agree with Kevin that traditional news sources are starting to adapt to this new model of journalism, by putting their newspapers and content online. This adds to the well roundedness of news gathering on the part of the reader, giving him/her more options and the ability to still keep up with a newspaper that they used to follow in print. I know I refer to both print and online and benefit from the experience of doing both.

  10. jajja says:

    Sadly, I’ve always been the last person to know anything because of my lack of news intake in general. But I will say that with the growing sector of online journalism and even causal news updates, I feel that I have become significantly more aware of current events and (trans)national news. This is probably due to the fact that I, as a college student, spend a significant time of my life online, where news and information is constantly being streamed at an incredible rate, making it nearly impossible to avoid hearing about the latest scoop and what not. From what I can remember, 10 years ago the majority of news my family obtained was received from television, and so it required a more active role in seeking out news (time considerations, channel surfing, etc.) as compared to the internet which just HANDS you news. While I do see this as an overall positive trend, I do think we have to be cautious of the effects from “information glut” as we have been discussing. With all this streaming information, it not only becomes harder to discern which voice to truest, but it becomes easier to passively gloss over the true messages that are being communicated.

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