If you talk with professional reporters, writers, and authors who’ve been in the publishing or news sector for more than a couple of decades they will tell you that the online media sources have ruined the industry. You see, for years they put up barriers to entry, they were the gatekeepers so to speak. In fact, they will tell you that the industry has gone downhill and not only is it difficult to make money, but so many companies have either merged or filed bankruptcy. Many of these folks went down screaming and hollering, heck many who are left still are Pimpandhost .
Others of course have adapted to the new online publishing and media world. Today, they compete using other strategies such as pay walls for instance, and by leveraging all that free citizen journalist information out there, after all, it’s free and abundant, and the publishers and news media have a respected platform to mega-phone it into everyone’s living room or to display it on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper.
Now then, for years during the emergence of all these citizen journalists, the new comers have complained about the barriers, barriers which today barely exist. One very unfortunate unintended circumstance now is that in trying to keep up with low-cost high-volume citizen journalist online model, the once well-respected major news outlets have allowed their quality to degrade itself, as they run skeleton crews and cut costs, mostly just to stay out of the red, trying to eek-out a profit and stay in business for another quarter or year.
So whose fault is it for the degradation of our news media and publishing world? Is the real problem that the gatekeepers are now letting everyone in and that wall has been torn down, or is the problem really one of human character and morality? Folks in the media have always used their positions of power, now that power is diffused, should we expect any difference from the often invisible ethical bars of the individual citizen journalist?
Should we expect an algorithm to sift through it all? Who writes the search algorithms, who gave them the right to become the new gatekeepers in this new information age paradigm? What do they want, what are their political views, are we sure we want their world view? Are computer scientists all of a sudden more ethical than other humans, or will they force their will from their view points?
Do we trust humans to provide the gate? How about the social networking entrepreneurs? Can we trust search engine artificial intelligence? Either way, one has to ask; will these changes lead to improvements, transparency, social control, false information, brainwashing, or poor quality of information? I dare to ask.
An interesting research paper on this topic is; “Forums for citizen journalists? Adoption of user generated content initiatives by online news media, by Neil Thurman, City University, London. In this paper he does indeed explain how things got to where they are now, and why. Also, some of the ways that the news media and publishing industry might actually remain at least somewhat intact by continuing to pursue hybrid models of the new and the old.