A recent article from The Economist.com showing how even the major media are shaking over the impact of the internet and grappling with how to deal with it – as some are closing their doors ever more tightly about what can be shared over digital media and what is their own exclusive territory – others are opening their doors to all and sundry – I venture that within this year a much larger shakeout will see many stalwart media icons disappearing – sadly for me as I am still a hard-copy junky and lover of lush big image printed eye-candy. Here is commentary that these same media are taking back by relying or at least using the net as their source – used to be CNN’s correspondent on the street – now its more likely to be you or me! What this does to our cities remains to be seen, and how in our parts (i.e. the developing world) newspapers are growing – I wonder how much of that growth is of tabloids with the morals of the recently defunct “News of the World”?
The internet has turned the news industry upside down, making it more participatory, social, diverse and partisan—as it used to be before the arrival of the mass media, says Tom Standage
For consumers, the internet has made the news a far more participatory and social experience. Non-journalists are acting as sources for a growing number of news organisations, either by volunteering information directly or by posting comments, pictures or video that can be picked up and republished. Journalists initially saw this as a threat but are coming to appreciate its benefits, though not without much heart-searching. Some organisations have enlisted volunteers to gather or sift data, creating new kinds of “crowdsourced” journalism. Readers can also share stories with their friends, and the most popular stories cause a flood of traffic as recommendations ripple across social networks. Referrals from social networks are now the fastest-growing source of traffic for many news websites. Readers are being woven into the increasingly complex news ecosystem as sources, participants and distributors. “They don’t just consume news, they share it, develop it, add to it—it’s a very dynamic relationship with news,” says Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the Huffington Post, a news website in the vanguard of integrating news with social media.
As well as making Twitter, Facebook and Google part of the news ecosystem, the internet has also made possible entirely new kinds of specialist news organisations. It has allowed WikiLeaks, for example, to accept documents anonymously and publish them to a global audience, while floating in cyberspace above national jurisdictions, operated by a small, nomadic team. Other newcomers include a host of not-for-profit news organisations that rely on philanthropic funding and specialise in particular kinds of journalism. Many of these new outfits collaborate with traditional news organisations, taking advantage of their broad reach and trusted, established brands.
All these new inhabitants of the news ecosystem have brought an unprecedented breadth and diversity of news and opinion to the business. This has cast new light on a long-running debate about the politics of journalism: when there are so many sources, does political objectivity become less important?