Thursday, August 9, 2007

Online Journalism

As newspapers continue to shrink, get bought out by billionaires with agendas, and all but disappear, it is interesting to notice the rise of an independent media on the Internet. While Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! is forming an independent network through community-based cable channels and public radio networks such as Pacifica and NPR, and Bill Moyers Journal returns to PBS with hard hitting investigative journalism, new sources of original news stories are also forming online. This trend towards web-based journalistic organizations that produces original content has been developing for quite some time. Websites such as:

have been garnering large readerships. But what is important to note is that this new trend is taking place while newspapers loose readership and pull back on their foreign bureaus.

Looking at the news with a skeptical eye is a necessary tool to being an informed citizen. We should all be looking at any news report with many questions. The most basic being: is the story true? And on the Internet, this basic question is something everyone should be asking all the time. Yet while we ask this question, we should take note of the credible news sources, such as the ones I mention above, who have been producing article after article of hard hitting fact based news.

Many news organizations are really just pulling a AP or Reuters feed. Anyone with a website can do this today. There is nothing wrong with pulling from news feeds from the bureaus per se but what is problematic is when this is all that a news organization does. To get original news stories from an independent source is something altogether different and very, very necessary.

While we foster a lot of questions about our media sources, we must not negate the need for original journalism. We need these news items to help us make informed decisions for ourselves, our families, and our country. News is expensive to produce and more and more news organizations have converted into entertainment venues rather than producers of critical raw journalism in service of the public good. Online outlets may not be the complete solution to our media crisis, but they do offer us a glimmer of hope for a future of an independent media that will work to provide Americans with news that is uncensored and strives towards adhering to journalistic principles.

Bloggers should in no way be confused with a journalists. While we may break an original story here and there that is not our primary function. The bloggisphere is a place of commentary, a 5th estate if you will, where individual citizen commentators, such as myself, can be a check on the media and our policy makers from our own individual points of view. We should not forget that the backbone to our existence as bloggers are the professional journalists who dig for the facts to produce the news stories with which we anchor our commentary.

It is up to us, the citizens, to find ways to financially support the organizations that performs the service of being a media that works for the people instead of corporate interests. So whether it is supporting an online journalist's advertisers, or buying the site's T-shirts, we should all dig deep so that this new form of online news organization is able to thrive.


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