Digital Media Musings

Candace Lee Egan's thoughts and ideas on digital media.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Objectivity: An impossible to attain and outmoded ideal that's dragging down traditional news.

For the last couple of years I've been thinking about the journalistic doctrine of objectivity and how difficult it is to put into practice. It's been a pillar of journalistic training since the profession recovered from the yellow journalism era in the early phase of mass media in the last century. But, maybe its time to be honest and admit that its impossible to achieve and is no longer what the audience is looking for.

Providing objective reporting of stories, in principle, meant that reporters insured that they kept their opinions to themselves and that both sides of an issue were equally covered. What an altruistic and lofty goal. In reality, however, I don't think its humanely possible to be totally objective about anything. No matter what, our life experiences, gender, education, neighborhood and a myriad of other things effect how we perceive the world and how we define objectivity in regard to any story.

In today's media world, the readers, viewers and listeners of news, having spent their entire lifetimes as consumers of news and information, realize that the journalist's cloak of objectivity is an illusion. Journalist's continued preaching of their commitment to objectivity, when the news consumer senses that they aren't, contributes, I believe, to why many feel journalists and news organizations are biased.

I also think that much of the writing that is typical of objective reporting, when it comes down to it, is boring. The personality of the reporter is missing. What the story means to them and how they interpret the story is subverted. In today's world, with all the competing sources of information, I think people are looking for interpretation and the perspective of the reporter.

If news organizations and the journalists who work for them want to be relevant in today's world I recommend that they let go of the "objectivity" ideal. Be clear that you are not objective, that you are interpreting what a story means, that you have a perspective. If a news organization wants to cover the various sides of an issue, then have multiple authors, each reporting from their view of a story.

Being honest about not being objective is more truthful than purporting to be objective when you aren't.

So it's time to accept that "objectivity" was a core part of American journalism's history and not the foundation of its future.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Newspaper Death Watch

I just found out about a blog called the "Newspaper Death Watch". It has interesting commentary on what's happening in the newspaper industry and updates on the cutbacks as various newspapers.

The future of newspapers: Will the local weekly thrive while the metro papers die?

Are the financial problems occurring in the newspaper industry tied more to large metro papers than to the smaller community weeklies?

I'm wondering if weeklies, because they are hyper local in focus, are more relevant to their communities. They cover what's going on in a community of people who may actually know each other and are interested in what the paper covers because it covers their life. In a large metropolitan area you seldom see anyone you know in the paper, which also tends to focus more on the nation, state and region than your neighborhood. And those news beats are covered by many other sources, on air and online, so that you don't need the newspaper to provide that information.

This may be another variation on targeting a niche audience, in this case its based on the neighborhood where you live.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - Is this the future of local news online?

I just found out about this Website, Late Its an online news site for the Fresno community, edited by a young journalist with roots at FCC's Rampage, Fresno State's Collegian, and the Fresno Business Journal.

Maybe this is an example of how we'll get our local news instead of through a local newspaper.

Will Television News Be The Last Man Standing

It seems that newspapers in their traditional form are dropping like flies. The Seattle Post Intelligencer's printing of their final issue yesterday, March 17, is the most recent example. Their Website lives on and even captures the memories of 147 years of publishing a printed newspaper. Locally, someone closely effected by the recent layoffs at the Fresno Bee described the Bee as "imploding".

We knew newspapers were in a period of transition to a greater focus on online news presentation. But, the situation has gone from a seemingly orderly evolution to the online model to newspapers gasping for life, with their online presence being the last hope for survival.

For a while, it seemed that newspapers were leading the way in exploring the potential of the Web compared to local broadcast TV. I thought the TV stations had missed the boat with the newspapers, at least those with vision, providing video coverage of local news and other multimedia features online.

But who would have guessed that many newspapers would so quickly go from lucrative profit margins to bankruptcy. In the meantime, TV stations, also tightening their belts, are doing better at retaining an audience and providing a meaningful outlet for those who still have advertising dollars.

I'm not a fan of big media conglomerates, but I'm beginning to think that the laws and regulations need to be changed so that local TV, newspaper and radio news operations can be consolidated. I'd rather have one local news organization that distributes content across the mediums of radio, TV, the Web and print than limited to no coverage of local news.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Contemplating Medium As a Discriptor for Mass Media

I think the word medium has taken on new meaning in the mass media field. I'm in the middle of thiking about this. I'll report back with more later. [I'm demoing blogging to my class so have to have something to type.]

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Discussing Blogs In MCJ 178 Class

This is a demonstration of how easy it is to blog. The problem is having something to say.

Feeding the Blog Monster

I love this medium, but I don't know how some folks keep up with regular posts.