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Online Journalism

reflections on a changing medium

In Why Is Online Journalism Different, and Why Should You Care? Richard Craig brings up many of the same points as Dan Gilmour regarding news coverage during times of national breaking news throughout time. He cites instances such as, President McKinley’s assassination and the death of Princess Diana and the 9/11 tragedy to show how, today, news is getting to people faster and more efficiently than ever before. The tables used throughout the text highlight different avenues of news media, emphasizing how important it is to have an understanding of the way in which the news that was being reported changed accordingly, over time, as the media methodology changed. The layout of Craig’s article puts it all out there for us in a nice, general overview stating the benefits and drawbacks to different types of media outlets.

Craig mentions that the audience for Web news sources is usually comprised of well-educated, affluent males and goes on to say that they also tend to be the type who “follow the news far more closely than the average American.” This fits well with the concerns that I expressed in my last post about whom the main consumers of Web journalism are and who would be most active on the read-write Web, interacting and helping to set the community agenda. Craig doesn’t really address my concerns, but goes on to talk about the costs and benefits of having such an audience to satisfy and to create a product for.  He cites Kovach and Rosensteil’s book The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect, warning against presenting news out of context in the fast-paced online environment where shorthand and summarization is often preferred. This is interesting to me because this is one of my favorite journalism books. I read it over a year ago when I knew much less about online journalism and I am now realizing how much I have learned since that point and am considering re-reading it with the new perspective that I’ve since acquired.

Reading the interviews with professional journalists that were included in the text was interesting as they all had different opinions about how the job of a journalist has changed since as online journalism has increased in popularity. The main things that I walked away with were the ideas that strong ethical principles, writing skills and technical command, and the ability to pitch a story or to present it in an interesting way will continue to be important traits that even an online journalist should possess. Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly important to have a well-rounded skill set featuring everything from multimedia design skills to Web language coding skills and the ability to shoot and edit photographs and video in order to be a versatile, employable journalist.

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