Posted by: William Perrin | November 3, 2008

Bill Dutton at Oxford Internet Institute on journalism and the fifth estate

Bill has written a couple of interesting posts here and here

‘In many respects, I find some worry to be based on an overly romantic image of the history of journalism. As many at the conference pointed out: ‘When has there not be concern over the quality of journalistic coverage?’ Looking a the history of journalism, people more often focus on the prize winning journalists, than on the partisan press, or the checkered past of world wide news coverage. Transformation in the work of the journalist, and the new skills that might be required, might also fuel this concern quality.’

‘Our OxIS research has found Internet users to be as trusting in online content as they are with broadcasting, and more trusting in what they can find online than in newspapers.’

‘Journalistic coverage has always been limited by the so-called ‘news hole’ – the restrictions tied to a limited number of column inches in the newspaper. The Internet erases this limitation, but has raised concerns over the reader (and the journalist, I suspect) being confronted with too much information, too rapidly. Is this simply a holdover a top-down culture of managing the reader, or is information overload truly disabling the reader?’

‘Are reporters spending more time behind their computer screens, and less in the field, observing, conducting interviews, and gaining first-hand impressions of developments? Are bloggers filling some demand for reporting from the field, or are they simply rewriting other press coverage?’

Ultra local sites clearly fill in demand for reporting from the field – a demand that will be all the more acute as ‘local’ news retreats to a regional level. Good ultra local sites also counter the romanticism that only journalists can write decent content.


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