Journalistic Integrity VS. Commercialism: The Face of the Modern Media

In the article “Learning to Love the (Shallow, Divisive, Unreliable) New Media by James Fallows, an argument is presented as to weather the journalistic integrity and overall quality of todays media, in print or broadcast is declining. Or was the state of affairs in media always one that was more concerned with how to attract an audience by any means necessary.

My feeling in regards to this question is that the access to information has exploded since the later decades of the previous century with the introduction of the internet, satellite and cable television. Thus the relative quality of the information has had to fluctuate in order to find what stories appeal the most to a particular audience. Particularly on the internet, where stories that are based loosely on fact or completely erroneous can be posted and presented to an audience with little to no censorship or quality control.

The article talks about media groups like ‘Gawker Media’, who are willing to bribe sources for information that they know will get them attention and increased readership, and they do so with impunity and little regard for so called “journalistic ethics”. Even doling out bonuses to those journalists who are able to bring in a certain number of new users logging into their network of websites. Their business model as a media outlet is completely centered around the number consumers that see their sites. Not the quality or relevance of their stories.

Quite frankly, this is a legitimate viewpoint to me. Considering that, ultimately, no mater if it was the “golden age of journalism” or not. News and media outlets have always been in the business of selling soap. Sad as it may be to say, ratings and readership will always be at the forefront of any news directors mind. And now more than ever, with the internet which can update anyone by the minute, and do so with little filtration. Individuals responsible for publishing news and media are going to be more and more concerned with presenting what their audience wants rather than what some program director or publisher feels they should think is significant enough to deserve their attention.

It just isn’t feasible to try and run media the way it used to be run. For fear of being left behind in the dust. Stories are breaking through social media such as Facebook and Twitter, by individuals actually experiencing the events first hand. Case in point the revolutions that took place in Egypt and Libya. At that pace, large media conglomerates run the risk of presenting old news by the time they can fact check everything and clear a story for broadcast or publishing. Dose this mean that traditional media should be uncensored, and lowered in quality. No, its very important that news and media outlets maintain the most factual details in regards to a story as they can. However, they’re going to need to find a way to compete with newer, faster media sources.

Ever since the inception of media, the burning question has always been how do we reach and audience, and what is important enough to them to choose us as a source rather than another. But with the overwhelming variety in media now available to consumers, news has become highly personalized. This encourages more sources and makes it difficult to have a broad enough spectrum in one source to capture everyones interest. Dose this mean that the quality of media is declining. I don’t think so. I think it means that technology is empowering the consumer to make more well rounded decisions regarding their sources rather than taking a single source as the ultimate arbiter of information. In this respect, consumers can see news from multiple viewpoints and be more well prepared to make up their own minds in regards to what is the truth or not. It also means that some media groups are going to need to be more focused in their approach to the information they present, in order to attract the audience they need.

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