Earlier this month ZDNet’s Tom Foremski wrote about the decline of journalism at the hands of search. He believes that “Google, Yahoo, Ebay, and many others, have figured out how to use servers to generate pages of content combined with highly targeted advertising taking money that was previously spent by traditional outlets on media professionals.
He admits that the blogosphere has “filled some of the gap” but is concerned that traditional journalistic standards will fall:
Professional journalists write/report/study/interview/write/check facts/write/edit/consider/weigh up consequences, etc, every day. Bloggers blog when they feel like it, they have a day job, and they don’t have the same incentives to consistently produce high quality media.
Foremski makes a good point about the differences between traditional journalists and bloggers, but in light of the recent failures of fact-checking at leading establishment media companies like the New York Times and CBS, it’s not surprising that readers are less trustful of the traditional news sources and are willing to consider the views of individuals who have no editorial controls.
Also, the news sources that drew the most readers in print continue to draw readers online, showing that the public still has a strong appetite for traditional reporting. Blogs add another dimension of news analysis that enhances but doesn’t replace existing journalistic standards, and the traditional news outlets have even embraced blogs as a way for their reporters and analysts to share more of their expertise about current events. It’s true that anyone can now start a blog and post information that may or may not be true, but readers will have to judge whether or not the content is trustworthy, and that’s nothing new.