Thursday, March 24, 2011

The New Wave of Information Sharing->Go Digital

In the mass media there are issues that are taken for granted, deemed unworthy of attention. The people in charge of making these decisions-sometimes without realizing it-are setting up agendas propagated by the professional political elite. Journalists shape and move public opinion based on what is “legitimate debate.” What is not worthy of attention or what is viewed as truth at face value are not debated in the traditional press (printed and digital). Fortunately-and a disgrace for some-the online community provides plenty of amateurs and bloggers to step up, and legitimize the disenfranchised news, opinions, events, and issues. However, this comes at a cost of sacrificing editing and financial losses to newspapers in circulation. Still, we are in an ever-changing world characterized by wider access to the globe and with it multitude of perceptions that need to be addressed and legitimately discussed in an open forum. The internet has transformed the way we receive ideas about the world and the people with which we share information.

In the article Audience Atomization Overcome: Why the Internet Weakens the Authority of the Press, the author mapped how the press (now turned mass media) shapes public opinion and information. According to Jay Rosen, journalists focus on the “legitimate debate” sphere to deliver news, analysis, and information. Legitimate debate is created by the political elite that provides what the public should know or think about. This is the field in which journalists work to deliver news, analysis, and information. However, Rosen argues that there are other sides of the spectrum of public information such as the deviant and the conventional wisdom spheres. The former is composed of radical information while the latter are “facts” taken as absolute truth...thus, not worthy of discussion. These two spheres are important because they are seldom included in public discourse shaped by journalists.

Many individuals are wary of information presented by established institutions. Sarah Ellison, in The Man Who Spilled the Secrets, states that “[some people] distrust everything that institutions stand for.” Thus, skeptics want alternatives that fall between the deviant sphere and challenges to conventional wisdom sphere. These alternative suppliers of information range from amateur journalists to bloggers to twitter updates. Ellison argues that professional journalism focuses on editorial and providing an understanding on facts, but alternative outlets, such as Wikileaks, want to deliver information raw, and have people formulate opinions by themselves based only on the data. This undermines the authority of the media and the press, as Rosen had speculated.

Ellison implies that the press focuses on editing information that causes public risk to individuals and data that is of low relevancy for the purpose of the analysis. She argues that Julian Assange had not deliberately sought to preserve editorial values by his “transparency” philosophy in which information is provided without alternations so that people can come to conclusions on their own. Ellison states that Assange allegedly did not take the necessary precautions to edit his secret documents for names of Afghan civilians. This may put at risks lives and make unnecessary information public. As such, alternative information outlets undermine what the press has sought to preserve for centuries...the integrity of sharing information cautiously.

Further, in Newspapers-Summary Essay, the authors demonstrate the decline of the printed press industry. According to the summary, newspapers are losing revenue and circulation due to several factors; the recession, the internet, and geographic impediments. Nonetheless, the internet is the main drive behind the decrease in newspaper industry. The authors do not project a good scenario for the printed press to compete against the internet in a profitable way. They do, however, state that newspapers “are beginning to make small strategic investments in their future”, such as going online and participating in advertising campaigns through their websites, among others. However, the prospects are still uncertain.

To meet the ever-changing patterns that the internet is delivering (different views and more people together), newspapers gain from collaborating in bringing alternative information to the public and going online.
The Guardian (British newspaper) Ellison argues is more friendly toward crowdsourcing information but it keeps its editorial standards. The newspaper also has a well-kept website that has expanded its horizon to include an international audience. Nonetheless, The Guardian is subsidized monetarily so it wouldn't suffer as much as other newspapers as it strives to provide information as it has by tradition. Other newspapers should follow suit with The Guardian by acquiring subsidies if they want to survive in the digital age. As it stands today, the printed press is deemed to keep loosing ground against the increasingly digitalized and alternative news-reporting.

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