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It’s Alive!! Or is it?

September 10, 2012 Leave a comment

In a 2008 article from the The New Yorker titled Out of Print: The death and life of the American newspaper, Eric Alterman brings up several points regarding journalism that are still relevant today.

One point Alderman brings up is “the nature of ‘news’ itself.”  He says, “The American newspaper (and the nightly newscast) is designed to appeal to a broad audience, with conflicting values and opinions, by virtue of its commitment to the goal of objectivity.”  Since the news has become so broad, are we really getting news or just extended headlines where if we want more information, we have to seek it out ourselves?

He also brings up the fact that many newspaper policies forbid reporters or staff to “voice their opinions publicly, march in demonstrations, volunteer in political campaigns, wear political buttons, or attach bumper stickers to their cars.”  Check out the Chattanooga Times Free Press ethics policy for an example of such restrictions.  Since this article has been written, a more recent issue probably added to ethics policies (in careers other than journalism, too) is social media profiles and posts.

Alderman also says many journalists “discount the notion that their beliefs could interfere with their ability to report a story with perfect balance.”  Objectivity seems to be a topic of constant debate within journalism.  Are they left?  Are they right?  What are they really trying to say?  No journalist is 100% objective–it’s simply impossible.  However, I believe there are journalists who are definitely better at it than others.  Objectivity also leads into questions of trust.  Can we trust where we get our news?  Alterman’s article claims most American don’t trust the news.  And cases like these don’t help the trust issues.  Do cases like those distort the image of how many journalists fabricate or copy things?–Much like does constant reporting on violent crimes lead to a distorted image of how often violent crimes actually happen?

I do not own this image. It is a stock photo, and you can get it here.

And finally, the topic of the Huffington Post was interesting.  Huffington Post is a site I use to get a large percentage of my news, but I had never really taken note of its early stages.  When Alterman’s article was written, it seemed HuffPost was still trying to find its niche on the Internet.  Was it going to be news?  Gossip?  Blogs?  Contributions?  It appears since this article’s 2008 release, the HuffPost has become much more news-oriented (even winning a Pulitzer in 2012).  Yes, the site still offers an extremely wide variety of blogs and contributions, it has definitely taken a more newsworthy shape in the last four years and appears to have made major growth in employees and reporters.  Although a lot of people still visit the site for the blogs, some people (like me) visit for the news, and I believe it was a smart move on the HuffPost to begin catering to a more “newsy” site rather than all blogs.

So with all the changes and advances in the last decade, is the newspaper dead?  I don’t believe so.  No, it may not always be the newspaper as we know it now–printed on the thick paper with the ink that turns your fingers black, but that’s because it’s evolving–going through it’s own form of Darwinism.  Who knows?  Maybe the newspaper will join the dinosaurs and become extinct, or maybe it will continue to evolve.

-MM

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