New and Old Media, Participation, and Information

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March 1

The profusion of low-cost media production and distribution has led to the rise of an alternative citizen-led media sector. Is this a passing fad of enthusiastic amateurs or the beginning of a fundamental restructuring of the way media and news are produced and consumed? Will the current trends lead to more information, better information, and better informed people or to an infinite stream of unreliable chatter? Will it lead to a more politically engaged populace or to an increasingly polarized society that picks its sources of information to match its biases and ignorance?

Slides: New and Old Media, Participation, and Information


Optional Readings

Class Discussion

Reading the Knight Commission Report, it is interesting to see how the objectives to achieve informed communities can be found more and more frequently on the new media. As Earboleda notes referring to the recent riots in the Arab world, it is worth to note the ability of individuals to engage with information, communicating what they see with the community. Egypt shut down Internet, beginning with Twitter and Facebook. Primarily as tools for organizing, but they also emerged as one of the most reliable sources of information (and sometimes the only one) from abroad. It was amazing to see how the technology community came to rescue: Google and Twitter joined forces to develop in a weekend a system to convert spoken tweets in text through a phone call (speak2tweet), no need for internet connection. The information society environment is changing, and not just at an individual user level. Given the news blackout, Al Jazeera chose to release its video contents licensed under Creative Commons, making available to any user relevant and credible information (implying creation, distribution and preservation, as the Knight Commission Report states). I guess the decline of journalism has been around for a while, although, as indicated Yu Ri, for most outsiders has gone unnoticed. The acquisition of The Huffington Post by AOL or other movements as the exit of The New York Times in the S&P 500 on Wall Street to make way for other companies such as Netflix... I guess they are signs of the end of an era. lorenabuin 12:48, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

Hey all, I hope we don't mind but I re-organized the comments from this week's class so there was a clear distinction between "Discussion" and "Links." I think having two specific areas each for us to discuss and to share is important; that way we don't get distracted by links in the middle of a point someone is making, and the links themselves don't get buried under conversations. I hope you guys agree! mcforelle 17:06, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

Just a few comments in response to the material covered in the last slides. It is no doubt that with changes in the function of the media, the society eventually will become reorganized as well. By increasing the amount of information sources, the flow of information through the internet will redistribute our society into variety of constituent groups. Each group will have its own gravitational force that will maintain loyalty of its members. Now, there are two major types of gravities that attract people: one, which involves no money, that is, members are acting based on the ideological cause only; second, in which money-making is the primary objective of the members. There could be a third type, in which members are attracted by both a moderate amount of money and by the good old cause. These segments of the society, may be not all, are going to correlate with each other to the certain degree while maintaining a relationship with the dominating in the nation ideology or perhaps policy such as Federal Law. Hence, the society will thereby become more integrated horizontally rather than vertically. The hierarchic structures will no longer have that monopolistic power as they do have it today. The society will be re-engineered and the shock will certainly take place as Klien describes in the book "The Shock Doctrine". There are certainly will be turbulences during the emergence of groups influenced by the different types of institutional ecology as Benkler asserts in his book "The Wealth of Networks". Thus, the utility of the larger group producing the news will suffer due to the process of disintegration, whereas the social benefit of the group receiving the news will rise due to variety of available sources. These are some anticipations that we can make now and prepare to adjust ourselves accordingly. I should have said all this in class, but I do not think that the institutional ecology would allow me. --VladimirK 02:42, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

The Death and Life of Great American Newspapers article made me ever more thankful for my International Herald Tribune (the international edition of the New York Times). Top reporting, top writing but at a top price (3 euros – approximately $4.00 cover price), it has become a luxury product targeted to a specific and affluent international readership. I was horrified when it started including advertisements on the front page, and worse, on the once sacred editorial page - then I understood why: survival.Mary Van Gils 19:03, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

Since we are going to talk about the old and new media, I thought that we should have an idea about the sequence of events that have much contributed to the technological development of the internet. By knowing the rate of improvement in hardware and infrastructure, we can hopefully realize an impact the internet has made on the legacy media and what role did the government play in the downfall of the American journalism. Internet Timeline: --VladimirK 18:29, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

I can readily sympathize with this week’s selected authors. It is unquestionable that the state of journalism is declining, and it was declining long before the Internet was to available to blame. I had been involved in local politics from the mid 1980’s until a few years ago. At the start there were always 3 or 4 reporters attending the Selectmen’s and Finance board meetings, and 1 or 2 at every other board or commission meeting. By the time I “retired” from politics only one local paper remained. The sole reporter couldn’t (and still can’t) attend the meetings so he would call the local officials to ask what transpired, then write the report based on what he was told without any further fact checking. Often the newspaper reports are wildly inaccurate. While the newspaper was the government watchdog of the past, today it is usually the lone gadfly who attends all the meetings, asks the tough questions, and does whatever he can to make his voice heard. The Internet is his most powerful amplifier. -Chris Sura 00:44, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

The fact that journalism was already declining long before the widespread of the Internet was novel to me. I assumed that emergence of citizen-led media is taking significant roles of reporting and distributing information away from the conventional media. Was it a lame excuse of the existing journal entities to explain their reduced power which is caused by factors other than the bloggers? --Yu Ri 09:19, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

It is interesting that a proposed solution to the decline of American journalism, is to look at government subsidies. Would the fact that journalists are subsidized by the government in some fashion, make it a target for political and other influences? What would stop Congress or the President from cutting off subsidies, or having undue influence on an investigation by a reporter for an article they did not like? The reality is that the world is changing rapidly, and that includes the way we consume information. Social media is what helped fuel revolutions across Tunisia, and the Arab world. This was done by empowering the people with information; not through state subsidized news outlets... Earboleda 17:09, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

One of the frustrating elements of the discussion of the decline of journalism is that which focuses on global coverage; I am unconvinced that rhetoric regarding pre-Internet global coverage is anything more than nostalgia. Even the major bureaux often lacked (and still lack) the local knowledge required to cover a locale accurately. In that sense, I think it's important to note how social media, citizen journalism, hyperlocal journalism, and other forces have improved upon global coverage of news.

The Nation piece touches on this, certainly, but I don't think it digs deep enough into the issues surrounding international correspondents and fixers. Jyork 18:57, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

Links from Class

Slides for class:

There is an interesting case on appeal in the Belgian courts regarding Yahoo’s aggregate news service that could have further European implications. A Belgian court ruled in 2007 that Google News’ publishing links breached Belgian copyright laws. See - search Google Belgium 2011-02-24 “Google Belgian Copyright Case Could Set Europe Policy”

In the United States the way one of the founding fathers envisioned free speech was that “the people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable.”'

While the premise of this argument exists in America today, I am unconvinced in the current culture that the majority of citizen “journalism” promotes and/or moves facts forward to actually enhance the greater good in many cases. We continue to see this during times of difficulty where inaccurate and misleading information is relayed through one source or another. I think the larger argument that needs to be made is that the separation between opinion and fact is almost virtually extinct in the media today. In the age of the five-second headline of hyperbole the “quick hit” is king over the investigated fact.

There are only a few large corporations that own the media outlets and they have control over the way news is relayed. These organizations often relay “news” into the public forum through the prism of political bias and financial expediency.

On September 22 2009, Clay Shirky spoke at the Shorenstein Center on accountability journalism. Shirky noted "we are headed into a long trough of decline in accountability journalism because the old models are breaking faster than the new models will be put in their place." He goes on to note that decisions about what news is being desired, “is now being made more by the consumer of the news than by the producer of the news.” In an effort to keep up with that constant appetite, media organizations have become sloppy in their reporting.

 1.  James Madison, House of Representatives, June 8 1789

Camcloughlin 21:43, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

How a Kansas City blogger made himself the go-to destination for KC info, both for citizens and local journalists. Where does he fit in the blogger vs. journalist debate? Welcome to Tony's Kansas City Mcforelle 17:07, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

This 'pitch' article is pretty interesting. It seems like he operates as a KC pundit: "The Botello of TKC hated Kansas City, for one. He referred to it as "cowtown" and trashed its every institution, from the Chiefs to the art scene to the restaurants. Men were "douchebags," women "skanks" and "tramps."" I don't know if I would call him a journalist in the traditional "being objective" sense especially after reading some of his articles (although some of his articles seem to be very objective), but I would definitely consider his work to be valuable. His spin can easily be dissected and the facts can be reevaluated. Saambat 19:42, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

For anyone who is curious (I know I was!), here are a couple articles detailing the French court's decision in the Joseph Weiler/Karin Colvo-Goller libel case. The case was dismissed, as the court ruled that the review in question did not go beyond the bounds of any normal review, and that Ms. Colvo-Goller did not bring the suit in good faith (meaning that she forum-shopped).
"French Court Finds in Favor of Journal Editor Sued for Libel Over Book Review" - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Prof. Weiler's blog post about the ruling
mcforelle 19:22, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

Another great article on this topic of old vs new media. Apparently this is a particularly hot button issue right now. Jay Rosen, from NYU's J-school, is presenting at SXSW on this topic, and has written an article as a means of soliciting reader's input on this upcoming presentation. Today he responded to some reader responses. The whole thing, including the conversations in the comments section, is worth a read:
Why "Bloggers vs. Journalists" is Still With Us Mcforelle 02:26, 6 March 2011 (UTC)