Old School Journalists Still More Resistant To Conversational Journalism

from the we-tell-you-the-news,-we-don't-discuss-it dept

We recently discussed how the mainstream press was finally catching on to a concept that had been obvious for years: younger news readers don't look on the news as being reported to them. It's something that they're participants in. They want to share the news, discuss the news, analyze the news, break the news and make the news all at the same time. A new study shows that old school journalists still haven't fully realized this. The study found that there's a significant gap between the way editors and readers think a newspaper site should work. Editors are against the idea of anonymous comments being allowed (only 30% thought it was okay). Yet 55% of readers felt that allowing anonymous comments was a good idea. 58% of editors didn't think that journalists should join in the online conversation and give out opinions, but only 36% of readers agreed. You can certainly see where the old school journalists are coming from -- having grown up in an era where journalist objectivity was everything, but it's becoming increasingly clear that people don't believe journalists are objective -- and they're much more upset by journalists pretending to be objective than those that are willing to be open with their views and willing to discuss them. Once again, newspapers need to start realizing that the very nature of journalism has changed.


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    Nick (profile), Apr 10th, 2008 @ 5:40pm

    I think the problem is that the old school journalists still think that they are the only source for any particular news story. But today, with so many news sources, this is not the case. While anyone and everyone can and does recite and site (link to) the cold facts, (especially via AP and Reuters syndication), more sources are ready and willing to engage in opinion and analysis, and this naturally leads to conversation, especially op-ed pieces. It is syndication that has made the facts non-scares, and opinion and analysis from the writers scares and sought after. Online newspapers that are all AP and Reuters syndication may as well be spam blogs that scrape other sites. They offer little value.

     

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    Jake, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 6:16pm

    On The Other Hand...

    It so happens that the editorial staff of the Guardian newspaper were one of the maverick 45%, at least initially. Comments are accepted on just about everything on their online edition and they have a full-blown discussion forum known as Comment is Free, -whose detractors are known to refer to it as Talk is Cheap'- and some of the more erudite quotes from it are quoted at the bottom of the Letters page of the print edition. Access to the entire content of the site is completely free, and for the first few months there was no need to register.
    It was a complete disaster. Flamewars broke out under practically every article, trolls moved in by the hundreds and the user experience was rendered utterly miserable for anyone who didn't have something to compensate for*. They still run a weekly column parodying the kind of 'debate' they got on there before registration was made compulsory for posting on articles and the most unpleasant characters barred.

    * Of course, this fell afoul of a variant of the Streisland effect by which the harder a man tries to compensate for the fact that he has a minuscule penis, the more obvious it becomes to everyone around him that he has a minuscule penis. Without naming names, some of my fellow commentators might want to think about that.

     

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    Wolfy, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 7:55pm

    Perhaps the intense desire to participate in discussion of the news is due, in part, to the fact that people feel disconnected from the larger society as a whole. Government being an example of an entity perceived as no longer responding the the wishes of the people in general.

    As far as the "Old School" Editors, it might be a a case of yelling at the cyber-punks to get off ("Old School's") "cyber-turf" (yard).

     

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    Shagger, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 9:38pm

    Readers can't "create" news. Events create news. Readers can add their opinions, insights and information to reported news but not MAKE it.

    The purpose of journalist is to provide a credible source information on events. Readers can also provide information on events but as a source they lack credibility.

    The idea of a journalist providing news and discussing it is good. Not very practical though due to time restrictions.

    Shagger
    http://www.dragonlasers.com

     

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      SomeGuy, Apr 11th, 2008 @ 5:45am

      Re:

      Part of the point, though, is that these days journalists lack credibility, too. I mean, how often do you hear people rail against the spin on FOX or CNN?


      Now, if you think that readers can't create news, then journalists can't, either: I'm not sure what your point is there. A blogger is arguably as good for reporting facts as a journalist is, depending on the blogger and the journalist in question. As noted, though, passing along facts is trivial these days. The analysis and discussion of the implications and causes involved in what happened is what adds value -- I mean, half the reason I read TechDirt is for the comments, no offense to Mike.

       

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    Alimas, Apr 11th, 2008 @ 5:45am

    I'm More old Style

    I think the news should be presented as objectively as possible and then opinions presented clearly second and separate from the original article.
    Someone's opinion is not news.

     

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    Doug, Apr 11th, 2008 @ 2:24pm

    As an 'old-school' journalist (I'm 37), I want to see 'new' media news sources like blogs be subjected to the same legal checks, balances and expectations of community service which apply to traditional media.

    I cannot consider a news source to be credible if it does not operate within established libel laws, if it does not invest in fact-based investigative reporting and if it makes no sustained and demonstrable effort to engage and represent a diverse group of readers.

    Comment areas and 'email this story' functions are well and good, but they reflect nothing more than the capabilities of current online publishing software.

    Print, radio and television place different demands on the journalist, but the underlying ethical standards are the same (or should be).

    Those same rules must apply to online news as well.

     

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      Mike (profile), Apr 11th, 2008 @ 3:11pm

      Re:

      As an 'old-school' journalist (I'm 37), I want to see 'new' media news sources like blogs be subjected to the same legal checks, balances and expectations of community service which apply to traditional media.

      Can you explain which legal checks do not apply to new media sources that do apply to the traditional media?

      I cannot consider a news source to be credible if it does not operate within established libel laws

      New media source do operate within established libel law.

      if it does not invest in fact-based investigative reporting

      That seems rather arbitrary... especially given some of the recent "investigative" reports from the mainstream press, compared to the success of some new media sources.

      and if it makes no sustained and demonstrable effort to engage and represent a diverse group of readers.

      Well, then you missed the point entirely. The whole reason why new media is succeeding is that it DOESN'T necessarily aim for a "diverse group" of readers -- which, by definition, would require it to focus on the lowest common denominator of content.

      Print, radio and television place different demands on the journalist, but the underlying ethical standards are the same (or should be).

      That implies that new media doesn't have ethics, which is incorrect. What's different is that they recognize what "old school" claims (objective coverage?) are imaginary and unnecessary constructs.

       

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      John Wilson, Apr 12th, 2008 @ 10:14am

      Re:

      Well, it's all well and good to be old-school if that means more than the pretense of objectivity because, rest assured, it is nothing more than pretense.

      The previous poster (#6) points out that journalists and "old-school" journalism rank, in polls on public trust levels at the bottom of the list right above bottom scraping politicians.

      While not fair it is a reflection of the trust level people have in the newspaper that lands on their doorstep.

      There is a perceived distance between journalists and the public they claim to serve. Canadian english news is dominated by Can-West Global in newspapers and television, TV and radio has the CBC and Can-West Global, again along with CTV.

      Outfits like News Corp are dominant, though not to the same degree as Canada in the US.

      None of these are, in spite of alleged objectivity the least bit shy about inserting their own spin and agenda into their so-called straight news and readers/viewers/listeners are quick to pick that up. None are local in any real way which consumers are also quick to pick up.

      In short, as in politics, there is a massive disconnect between between the news consumer and the news provider.

      Into that space bloggers have moved in with varying success in order to offer different views or to focus on a narrow range of news and issues. Groklaw is an example of the latter which doesn't hide its bias though it also provides excellent fact based commentary. Other sites offer much the same. Sites like mine are opinion only and make no claim to be otherwise.

      I do have to giggle a bit at the notion that fact-based investigative reporting even exists anymore. Investigative reporting is expensive and the news giants are not about to spent the money on that without sufficient editorial control to ensure that the resulting story fits in with their political and social bias (spin). The facts are still there but the spin in how it is presented increasingly take precedence and that too is obvious to consumers whether or not they agree with the bias.

      What turns consumers off is the pretense of objectivity when and where none exists. Nor, in fact, has it ever existed.

      As the blog indicates people want to debate, discuss and interact in order to come with their own conclusions about events in some sort of community context.

      I have worked as a journalist and I used to be old school in the sense that I attempted objectivity and occasionally got there. It was pointless though because it became merely a set of facts that no one paid attention to, lacked context and much of anything interesting.

      Traditional media no longer engages, hasn't been trusted in many years and is seen as irrelevant. Let's be honest here.

      From day one of print journalism the point has been to surround advertising with some reportage rather than the other way around. Television and radio news are built exactly the same way. Journalist quality, except in very rare occasions, takes second place to owner spin and advertising space. The same is true of some blog/news/press release reprint sites such as CNET. (I have yet to figure out where CNET falls though, mostly, I tend to the press-release reprint factory do a degree which would embarrass the old time rip and read radio newscasters.)

      With respect to your statement on "rules" once I see the rules you cite applying to failing mainstream news media I'll demand the same from the blogosphere. Until then all that shows me is the hypocracy of mainsteam news media.

      ttfn

      John

       

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    old-school-media-guy, Apr 11th, 2008 @ 11:11pm

    Not that much has changed

    At 45, I recognize and encourage innovation in reaching audiences and do think less in terms of print or radio or broadcast or cable flavors, but have you noticed that many early adopters have vanished and the old guard regained top billing?

    This isn't the revolution I foresaw two decades ago when AP News Desk and dot-matrix printers arrived. We still go to the weekly school board meeting and check the blotter every morning as we have for a hundred years; we've simply added a blog entry.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 9:34am

    Can I leave an anonymous comment on this site?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 9:35am

    Oh, apparently I can...and be called an anonymous coward.

     

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    aries (profile), Feb 26th, 2010 @ 11:10am

    [I think the problem is that the old school journalists still think that they are the only source for any particular news story. But today, with so many news sources, this is not the case. While anyone and everyone can and does recite and site (link to) the cold facts, (especially via AP and Reuters syndication), more sources are ready and willing to engage in opinion and analysis, and this naturally leads to conversation, especially op-ed pieces. It is syndication that has made the facts non-scares, and opinion and analysis from the writers scares and sought after. Online newspapers that are all AP and Reuters syndication may as well be spam blogs that scrape other sites. They offer little value.]

    I agree with this.

    Aries
    http://www.techlasers.com

     

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    chloeelvis (profile), May 19th, 2010 @ 1:25am

    nice post

    I think the problem is that the old school journalists still think that they are the only source for any particular news story. But today, with so many news sources, this is not the case.
    i agree, this is just the situation at present time.

     

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    stellamian (profile), Jan 12th, 2011 @ 1:39am

    I am quite agree with this opinion. [I think the problem is that the old school journalists still think that they are the only source for any particular news story. But today, with so many news sources, this is not the case. While anyone and everyone can and does recite and site (link to) the cold facts, (especially via AP and Reuters syndication), more sources are ready and willing to engage in opinion and analysis, and this naturally leads to conversation, especially op-ed pieces.] Stella Mian from http://www.laserto.com/

     

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    Laser Pointer, Jul 12th, 2011 @ 12:30am

    Lasers

    Nice! I think?

     

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