Information + Digital Age

We’ve all heard the term “Information Age” and we’re all, for the most part, pretty familiar with the digital world. In Week 8 of Intro to Digital Communications, we discussed how journalism and journalism ethics and values have been affected by both the information age and the digital world, era, whatever you want to call it. Here, I’ll briefly discuss different views on how journalism and the media industry is shifting and, as a refresher, I’ll list the age-old journalism values that still exist today.

According to Dr. Strahler, some argue that the information age has led to too much unchecked data, too much unthoughtful discussion. We’re also in an era where we want information right now, not tomorrow, which isn’t the best for print media like newspapers which publish daily, not every second.

Because the public’s values and lifestyles are changing so much, journalists and media outlets have been scrambling to navigate the digital space, adapt to these changes and discover new, innovative, creative ways of delivering a compelling story without losing the target audience. For the most part, I’d argue that media outlets and publications are doing just fine. 

One of my peers mentioned that for the last several years, we’ve heard things like “print media is sinking,” but print publications like Vogue or TIME have quickly and successfully figured out how to stay afloat by leveraging digital platforms. They understand that most people watch more videos on their phone than on the actual television, for example. In fact, 25% of online video viewers are watching less TV than they were a year ago, one survey reports.

In order to target frequent visitors, publications now have an entire video library on the website, making visitors feel as though what they’re seeing is exclusive and one of a kind. So yes, in that small example, the media landscape is changing but journalism isn’t disappearing and neither is print media. It’s simply about readjusting the approach and reaching audiences in more organic and creative ways.

Additionally, journalists now have an immense responsibility to fact check and deliver accurate news now that there’s a constant influx of “news” all over the Internet from tons of sources — both reliable and not. Not only that, but journalists are not just competing with each other anymore; citizen journalists (or everyday people reporting news) are now frequently breaking news before a professional journalist does.

Professor Robert Picard of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism says that the media is “increasingly relying on photos, videos and information provided by citizen journalists.” Indeed, this seems to be the case. Think Ferguson riots and people posting live photos or videos of it on Twitter, or the recent tragedy that took place in Virginia when one WDBJ7 reporter and cameraman were shot live on television and the perpetrator posted the video on social media.

What does this call for? Certainly a need for journalists to build more media literacy…in being able to filter out the bad material (or non-credible) that’s available and push out the good.

I’ll leave you with the following journalistic values that still exist today.

  • Neutral
  • Truthful
  • Accurate
  • Objective / Unbiased
  • Accountable
  • Public Interest First
  • Oh…and remember to cover all angles of a story!

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