Forum 3

For this week’s discussion we are heading straight into the heated discussion of what defines journalism. There was a lot of interesting conversation spurred by forum 1 from which some arguments suggested that journo industry awards should not be given to non-journalists.

When is an act of journalism committed? If information published by a blogger does the same important thing for democracy that a traditional muckracking bit of newspaper copy does, should it be called journalism?

You may have heard arguments like this:

Frédéric Filloux, former editor of Liberation in Paris.

Today’s problem is not one media versus another, it’s the future of journalism — it’s finding the best possible way to finance the gathering and the processing of independent, reliable, and original information…. I don’t buy into the widespread delusion that legions of bloggers, compulsive twitterers or facebookers amount to a replacement for traditional journalism.

Bloggers are just as guilty as mainstream news media critics and play the bloggers vs. journalists game too:

Note to Ben Marrison: If you want to pretend that you, as a professional journalist, are somehow better than political bloggers … because you are less biased and less lazy then you might consider actually NOT being both lazy and biased while writing online rants for the world to see.

Don’t you know that’s OUR job?

Both of these last two quotes I pulled from a talk that Jay Rosen recently gave at South By Southwest. Rosen argue that

(the) disruptions caused by the Internet threaten to expose certain buried conflicts at the heart of modern journalism and a commercialized press. Raging at bloggers is a way to keep these demons at bay.

and that

(b)y raging at newspaper editors, bloggers manage to keep themselves on the “outside” of a system they are in fact a part of. Meaning: It’s one Internet, folks. The news system now incorporates the people formerly known as the audience.

Rosen is attempting to put the pointless debate to bed. He suggests there are five reasons why journalists are feeling stress and continue to keep the debate raging.

One: A collapsing economic model, as print and broadcast dollars are exchanged for digital dimes.
Two: New competition (the loss of monopoly) as a disruptive technology, the Internet, does its thing.
Three. A shift in power. The tools of the modern media have been distributed to the people formerly known as the audience.
Four: A new pattern of information flow, in which “stuff” moves horizontally, peer to peer, as effectively as it moves vertically, from producer to consumer. Audience atomization overcome, I call it.
Five. The erosion of trust (which started a long time ago but accelerated after 2002) and the loss of authority.

Read Rosen’s SxSW argument here and have your say. Are you on the side of journalists? Should bloggers be kept at a distance and considered different than what journalism is? Are you with Rosen, is this debate part of a twisted psychology that continues for no reason? When is journalism committed? Who says?

Support your argument with references to our class reading and/or other relevant sources. Post your responses below in the comments of this post.

[Photo: Brett L./Flickr]