The ever-changing world of journalism

8 Feb

Whenever journalism is talked about lately, it seems the theme of change is constantly present. It is hard to argue with the fact that journalism is evolving. Journalism is somewhat of a roller coaster right now, and journalists are along for the ride.

The role of media executives has noticeably changed but not necessarily for the good. As the media industry, especially newspapers, suffers to stay afloat, execs are cashing in. While companies lay off writers, those calling all the shots are giving themselves bonuses. David Carr expresses his strong opinion on the subject in a New York Times article, saying media executives are just as bad as those on Wall Street. He urges us to look beyond just the Occupy Wall Street movement and into our nation’s newsrooms, too. But, surprisingly, with this negativity surrounding the business side of the media, local newspapers in small towns are retaining a steady readership. Amidst the change, at least one thing remains constant and positive.

While readership might not be experiencing a change, the audience for news is. The audience is no longer passive. It is an active audience. Instead of just receiving news, people are taking the initiative to help create it. The media no longer remains elite with absolute control of dissemination of information. With the internet, people can now write, photograph and publish if they wish. Where news used to be vertically handed down to an audience, there is now horizontal communication that exists between citizens.

Content farms are an example of how this new active audience is impacting the journalism world. There are now websites dedicated to publishing content-specific columns on a wide variety of topics, such as the Examiner. Ordinary people can apply to write on a particular topic and be quite successful. You don’t have to be a professional writer. Kimberly Bogin, a stay-at-home mom became noted as the Denver Pop Culture Examiner. These content farms hone in on very particular particular topics and news for local communities.

The website Patch.com calls itself a source for local knowledge you “can’t live without.” The website allows people to browse by state, and then more specifically by local town. I see this as a useful tool that would benefit information consumers. As a resident of a small town, it can sometimes be hard to instantly access the most recent information and events in the area. There are newscasts and newspapers sure, but sometimes those lump several small towns into one area to report on the news. For example, I am from Palm Harbor, which is very small town by Tampa. In the area, there are several other small towns right next to one another. Therefore, for media purposes, it is considered Tampa Bay. Most of the information is all lumped together and it is hard to get information specific only to Palm Harbor. With Patch.com, I can simply click on Palm Harbor and see all of the latest news, written by people who live in and know the town. It is a great and unique resource. I definitely consider Patch.com to be a kind of journalism. While it is new and different from mainstream journalism, the bottom line is it provides useful information. Just as blogs, Facebook, and Twitter are beginning to be seen as valuable tools in journalism, Patch.com should be too.

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