Sunday, March 3, 2013

Why Going Digital Won't Save Journalism -- At Least Not Yet.

Robert McChesney in Sunday's Salon on the news media meltdown:  "...The Internet does not alleviate the tensions between commercial­ism and journalism; it magnifies them."

It doesn't do a whole lot for journalistic integrity either.  If the current crisis in the news media has to do with making enough money to pay the journalists to do the work, going digital not only exacerbates the problem, but tarnishes the product as well.  McChesney exposes several recent attempts to make money online -- and why they've failed, at least when it comes to the true purpose of journalism.  Here's a taste:
The latest hope is that the rapid emergence of mobile communication will open up new ways to monetize content. But the point of professional journalism in its idealized form was to insulate the news from commercialism, marketing, and political pressures and to produce the necessary information for citizens to understand and participate effectively in their societies. In theory, some people were not privileged over others as legitimate consumers of journalism. That is why it was democratic. It was a public service with an am­biguous relationship with commercialism; hence the professional firewall. Journalists made their judgment calls based on professional education and training, not commercial considerations. That is why people could trust it. The core problem with all these efforts to make journalism pay online is that they accelerate the commercialization of journalism, degrading its integrity and its function as a public service. The cure may be worse than the disease.
 What's at stake is not just media corporations' bottom lines -- or even reporter's paychecks.  It's democracy itself.  bk

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