As you’ve read this text and gathered information about writing for online and news Web sites, do you think the demise of newspapers is imminent? Do you find yourself more or better informed via the Internet than through reading “today’s news tomorrow” in a newspaper? Does our linear style of reading (page after page) afford you a broader scope of what’s happening in the world or does reading online news stories with all its accoutrements (links, layers, etc.) give you a better view?
Give some thought to these issues and questions before you write. In the last few years, WikiLeaks has appeared in the global news for releasing videos and documents about America’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. More recently, the world has depended upon non-journalists as a source for news with the revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain and Syria. Trained journalists are now just beginning to cover some of these areas because of censorship or being banned from entering the country. Social media again played a major role in coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings. In fact, the best photos of the two suspect brothers came from ordinary citizens with cell phone cameras. Yet, mainstream media made many mistakes in the first few days after the bombing with information supposedly gotten from “reliable sources.” How much stock should be given information from these “civilians?” Accuracy, fairness and balance still must play the most significant role in information gathering and dissemination.
However, in their zeal to provide the most up-to-date breaking news to its viewership/readership, news organizations have taken to running this information, often with the caveat that the details have not been verified. This suggests a more general breakdown of traditional media’s authority in an era of text-messaging, Twitter, and cell-phone images/video. Remember, it was a Tweeter in Abbottabad, Pakistan, who initially provided details of the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. Now the ethical question, does the publication/broadcast of this information actually serve the public good? Even if it has not been verified? Does publishing information from non-journalists create suspicion or credibility issues for the profession? Does social media help keep society informed when used in a news providing role? Should the media continue to offer information gleaned from Facebook or Twitter, chat rooms or blogs? Does it matter to you that much of this information is not part of the American media? Deliberate on each question posed and provide a complete answer in essay form. Don’t shortchange yourself on this; I’m looking for well thought-out content.