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New-fangled Journalism's Problem: Too Much Email

from the whatever-you-say dept

Email has proved a valuable tool for journalists, giving them an easy way to get in touch with and interview sources. But reporting via email’s got its critics who say it’s a “recipe for sterile journalism”. It’s fairly clear that there’s a number of people in the world of journalism that aren’t comfortable with technology, as evidenced by the medium’s generally backwards view of the Internet. Many journalists like using email for interviews because it gives them backup when somebody claims to have been misquoted, but one professor objects to them on the basis that it’s lazy, and not “old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting”. Of course, old-school reporters don’t need email to be lazy. Email offers plenty of benefits to journalists, but at the end of the day, it’s just a tool like the telephone or even the trusty reporter’s notebook. Used responsibly, it’s quite valuable. But it never made anyone do shoddy work on its own.

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Comments on “New-fangled Journalism's Problem: Too Much Email”

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Josh (user link) says:

it's not ludditism...

I think the point of the prof’s complaint is not merely that e-mail is bad because “in my day we used shoe leather and really talked to people, gaddummit!” His point is more specific and frankly valid: when you “interview” someone via email, they have time to consider what they say and potentially run it by their superiors — what you get is drier and more like a press release. Talking to people in person or over the phone (or by IM, I suppose — in “real time” in other words) is more spontaneous and gets you more scripted answers. Yes, e-mail is a tool, and a useful tool at that, but with every tool you have to know what it can’t do, not just how it makes your life easer.

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