Journalism and the Internet: For Better or Worse?

From pen and paper, to typewriters, computers, and the Internet, journalism is no stranger to changes fueled by technology. While technology is always changing and forever fleeting, the reliance on first hand accounts and thorough fact checking are principles that have withstood the test of time and serve as guidelines for modern day journalists. How has the advent of the Internet challenged these principles and impacted the way in which journalists gather facts?

 Reporters no longer rely solely on their own reporting skills. Stories, facts, and quotes have become easier to access than ever before. Journalists can pull from a pool of information and a sea of quotes and avoid lengthy interviews or the frustration of tracking down a primary source. Immediacy often trumps accuracy and originality. Journalists quote tweets and “borrow” information and quotes from other sources. Even a reputable news source, CNN, includes quotes from Twitter in their news stories, instead of going straight to the original source.

 However, the Internet helps as much as it harms the practice of journalism. How has the Internet positively influenced the discipline of verification that is outlined in “Journalism of Verification?”

 In terms of transparency, links have allowed journalists to be more open with their readers regarding the sources and methods used to obtain information. Links can lead readers to original documents such as, primary sources, public records, interview notes, and archival stories that are too lengthy to include in a print article. Blogs create spaces for journalists to connect with readers on a more personal level and reveal the face hidden behind the screen.

 Web content provides journalists with tools that can either help or harm their work. It is ultimately the responsibility of journalists to utilize Internet content while upholding their integrity, credibility, and originality. Is it possible to strike a balance?

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