Who do we trust?

The problem’s we face as journalists today is the expectance to be great and efficient in both print and online media. Journalism is now easily compared to other data and media through the internet, which gives the public more of a chance to knock today’s journalism abilities. The rise of citizen journalism has also put a spin in the works.

“Today’s journalists are not sloppier than yesterday’s. Rather, readers are more demanding. Technology has given them more choice in other areas of their lives and they seek it in their media.” John Kelly, pg.9, Red Kayaks and Hidden Gold.

I totally agree with this point by Kelly. I believe that today’s journalists have a lot more pressure than what they used to.  Journalists are expected to produce material and stories for print and online media, within the same time deadline and with the same salary as they would if they were just doing print- for surely double the amount of work?! That doesn’t seem right or fair.

However in the companies/newspaper proprietors view and probably a lot of the public’s, online media has opened up to so many advantages in journalism. Journalism has become more efficient, cheaper to run and more accessible. John Kelly mentioned the costs and efficiency of the substitute medium of online journalism. He describes online journalism as:

“a low-cost distribution mechanism that is newspaper delivery truck, paper boy, and radio and TV transmitter all in one.” John Kelly, pg.6, Red Kayak and Hidden Gold.

The online journalist now does all three jobs of a production line, which indeed is quick, efficient and cheap. Kelly’s advantage point also is seen in Paul Bradshaw’s digital model, in this BBC article.

Here is the image of Paul Bradshaw’s digital model:

News production goes digital

However efficient and cheap it may be, I just don’t feel it works. It obviously shows great results but there are worries and dangers from this model. It is expected for one person to do the news gathering, news production and distribution all in one at the same deadline of a print journalists who will just be news gathering. When Kelly mentions that today’s journalists are not sloppy, I agree with but at the same time they have so much more to do that I feel the quality of journalism is being put under threat. Journalist’s are having to cut corners just to make sure that their story is put out on time. This then develops trust and reputation issues of that particular journalist as well as the newspaper company itself.

This is when I think that the citizen journalist helps in some way. They can provide the valuable information and stories that other journalists do not find, or do not have time to do, also without any real danger in trust or reputation. Citizen journalism brings experts into the process so stories can be more accurate. It makes possible coverage of events that mainstream media might miss. It saves money. It influences the news agenda. It demystify’s the journalistic process. It gives a sense of community.

Paul Bradshaw also backs up this point. He said:

“I think as soon as you broaden the support and the mechanism supporting journalism, Professional journalism has to meet certain criteria’s to get done, it has to be efficient; it has to be attractive to advertisers and so and so forth. A lot of publicly funded journalism also shares this. As soon as you move away from different types of journalism you open up to provide information for different sources and different criteria’s correctly. So that for me is an advantage.” Bradshaw, interviewed 8th May 2012.

However there are also disadvantages and worries of citizen journalism. You don’t directly know who is writing for instance a blog or website and you don’t know how trained they are. A lot of citizen journalism is just personal opinions expressed so others can see, which a lot of the time is rubbish to read. It is damaging to other news brands, an example of this was an extreme comment put on the MailOnline about the cervical cancer vaccination, which then became a threat to the vaccination itself. It is great that readers can interact with news stories now and express their opinion, but how far should they be able to go with it?

Between both print and online journalism, there is a constant worry of trust. John Kelly says:

“journalism’s unstated aim – to tell the truth without fear or favour – elevate it in such a way that failing to live up to that standard can be especially damaging” John Kelly, pg.6 , Red Kayak and Hidden Gold.

Damaging to the reputation of both print and online. Without trust from readers, there would be a threat on the business of journalism in general.

I asked Dan Gillmor in May 2012, whether he felt that people trust citizen journalist’s or not. His response:

“I feel that they can trust some, but they have to do more work on what they can trust. But to be honest they could never fully trust traditionally media either.”


Posted on October 18, 2012, in Online Revolution and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. This is a matter of trust. I totally agree. However, there is something shocking for me. People have lost their trust in newspapers. We tend to trust online newspaper less than the print ones but when they start to include citizen journalism pieces or user generated content we suddanly recover the faith (or we get more interested at least). Why does that happen? Why do we trust amateur people? I think it is because we know (but not notice) that a professional work is behind. Journalists choose and show the best for us. We should trust them but more money should be spent on that work. Efficient and cheap is a difficult mixture, as you said.

  2. I totally agree with you about citizen journalism helping – and enriching – online and print journalism. It’s hard to imagine a world without all the amateur footage of 9/11 and other events. But I also agree that it can be a problem, although I feel that comments on newspaper stories online don’t really count as ‘citizen journalism’. The term is way too widely definied, I think people like Kelly need to remind themselves of what it means and stop chucking it around to mean whatever fits in their articles!
    Great blog, anyway.

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