A few years back, the main job of a print journalist was to write. He or she would be assigned a story — or search for one, if he or she had the power to decide what to write about — and go on to interview people so as to have quotes to write the article. After he or she had finished it, he or she would send it to a section editor, it would then be sent to a copy editor, followed by a designer and so on in order for the time when the journalist would wake up the next day with the paper waiting the front lawn including his or her byline.
Times have changed however, and as far as journalists in any paper are concerned, 8 p.m. deadlines are practically over as not only do journalists have to cover stories as fast as possible without leisure to slack or take a break, but they also have the opportunity to see what they have written within minutes of them finishing it, published on the web, where billions of people all over the world have access to such content.
Of course, now, in the age of information, the idea seems idyllic. People sharing information and fighting for who can get it out faster has become the order of the day. This has been applied not only by news organizations, but also by individual journalists who now don’t only have to worry about making sure they get good quotes, but branding themselves, getting an audience and interacting constantly with their readers, who have now been given the power to give feedback — a benefit and curse at the same time for journalists who can use the additional feedback but dislike any type of criticism.
As time progresses, it is important that people can update themselves to the needs and requirements of their jobs and journalists are no exception.
Although for some it is much better and easier than others to shift into an era where the demands of high quality and inexpensive information are superior every single day, the information era has enabled for people and journalists to interact and get the word out faster than ever before. This allows journalists to break news in seconds, rather than in hours or even days.
However, as much as the Internet has been crucial in terms or journalism allowing papers from the smallest cities to be read all over the world, it has also allowed for non-journalists to publish information as news.
Obviously someone does not necessarily have to have a journalism degree to produce a quality article, but more often than not some people including commentators and opinion writers get more and more popular on the Internet by publishing tainted, untrue and biased information (although this happens at some news organizations too and is something that by no means should be classified as quality journalism). This allows for “citizen journalists” to tell their stories for everyone in the entire world to read even though such stories may not always contain quality content.
Lets face it, not everyone that has an opinion on something is fully equipped or knowledgeable to impart it on others and not all news are really fit to be published for the entire world to know. True, all news are news to some people, but if we go by that standard, news broadcasts should be filled with silly and unimportant information.
Not only that, but sometimes, the online publishing process allows for the traditional (and quite effective) editing process of an article to get shoved to the sideline. As it allows for anyone and everyone to become a “journalist” and be self-published, all of the sudden, style and consistency in writing become a thing of the past.
Proof reading is absolutely not enough for an article to be published, especially if the journalist or person who wrote it wants to be reliable and credible. For instance, in “Newspaper columnists ought to be the perfect bloggers. So why aren’t more doing it well?” by Robert Niles, the article talks about how to make journalism better by blogging actively and making things faster and simpler. Yet, half way down the article, there is a typo so giant that it has the potential to make any copy-editor gag with disgust.
“I warned the audience against asking readers what they think. The Web has more then enough places for folks to vent their opinions. What you want to elicit are experiences – first-person accounts that other readers might relate with, drawing them into the conversation as well.”
Spot the mistake? If you haven’t, it should be than instead of then.
After reading this mistake, how could I continue reading? My credibility on what this man was trying to convey was gone. It may sound anal and extremely silly for some people, but how could anyone take the words of someone who confuses than and then, or affect and effect as reliable?
It is quite ironic for a mistake so obvious to appear right in the middle of an article referring to improving journalism.
True, some journalists and editors make mistakes, but they go back and fix them. If the mistake occurs with content, newspapers run corrections. Yet, this article has remained with the typo — and poor punctuation — since 2009.
This is exactly my point. Blogs have allowed for common people to pass on information as though they were journalists and editors. It works well in terms of imparting information but confuses people as to the true identity of a news story.
As journalists must converge to a new age of blogging, they need to do so carefully so as to not be part of the group of bloggers who write and publish without editors and make huge mistakes while retrogressing the value of news and quality content.