Does Democracy Need Journalism Anymore?

At a recent CCC event (more here, here and here) Bill Manny from the Idaho Statesman made a pretty bold statement. (Paraphrasing):

The First amendment defends journalism because Democracy needs journalism to survive.

Bill is obviously an incredibly intelligent guy and is an excellent reporter (and mountain climber from what I hear) but he will even admit that he doesn’t understand the change that new media is having on his industry.

If I could be so bold I would like to pose a question that continue Bill’s rationale:

If journalism itself has been democratized through new media, does Democracy need journalism anymore?

I honestly don’t have an opinion either way yet. I’m kind of thinking out loud. Thoughts?

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On May 18th, 2007 at 11:20 am, Chris Blanchard said:

What happens when the blogosphere becomes the establishment? What will be the platform that disrupts it, the same way it is disrupting traditional media now? In some ways, isn’t the blogosphere already the establishment? What is the difference between what Bill Manny does for the Statesman and Ariana Huffington and Markos Moulitsas do - or Matt Drudge for that matter? All are full time, self made journalists (albeit with a HEAVY dose of punditry), they are just on a different platform than Bill Manny.

On May 18th, 2007 at 11:46 am, Kevin Donaldon said:

Democracy still needs journalism, but the difference now is that everyone has the ability to participate. Traditional journalists, and journalism institutions no longer need to ‘bear the burden’ alone. They now have millions of partners among their reader base that will support the first amendment (whether traditional institutions are ready for it or not).

On May 18th, 2007 at 12:58 pm, Tac said:

Chris, I think that to some of us new media may seem to be more pervasive than it is but blogs still have a long way to go before it becomes the institution. And when it does I expect that it will follow the typical evolutionary model of consolidation.

Good point Kevin, I didn’t really differentiate between the act for journalism and journalism the institution.

On May 18th, 2007 at 2:36 pm, Daniel Weisman said:

Journalism is journalism regardless of the medium- and journalism in the age of freedom of press and speech has always been democratized (we choose our publishers with our dollars).

The only difference is that many new journalism publishers. Some will argue that overall quality will suffer, but that’s irrelevant- consumers will find the quality journalism regardless of the publishing medium.

Apparently, there’s been a definition misunderstanding. Journalism is defined by the action of reporting information. That action will always have it’s time, place, and need. Eyeballs are the economy in print or any other publishing medium and anyone who can command the audience by exceptional (or yellow depending on the audience) journalism will eventually choose to capitalize on their success.

On May 18th, 2007 at 8:27 pm, Jarred said:

Tac- Great question. Yes I think democracy does need journalism. We need information, we need to know what happenend today at the local and global level. At least we think we need that. It doesn’t matter how we get it, whether it is via new or traditional media. Daniel is correct by saying that we will find what each of us views as quality and use that as our source of information.

New media alows us to look at what maybe the “other side of the story”. It might give us a different perspective because the source might be from an insider. But we have to decide for ourselves whether the quality and/or credibility of the source is valid to our personal values.

Yes we need journalism. Maybe the question should be do need the traditional media like newspapers, television or radio?

On May 27th, 2007 at 8:39 am, Phil said:

There was a segment on a recent Frontline episode about this same subject.

Democracy will always need journalism. I think newspapers, television and radio will always have their place, but it seems that as time goes on, their place becomes less significant than it used to be. They have a shrinking piece of the pie–but they’re never going to disappear.

As time goes on the media by which we receive our information will become more diversified and as a result what a, “journalist” is will become more ambiguous.

Journalists are trained in their profession, typically they study journalism and go to journalism schools. I think most bloggers do not have the fundamental skill sets that are required of most journalists. And for the most part, bloggers make no attempt at being, “objective”.

I think there is journalism overlap into the blogosphere, but for the most part, it is few and far between. As time goes on I think people will feel more comfortable calling bloggers, “journalists,” but certainly not all of them. Furthermore, as time goes on I think more journalists will feel comfortable being bloggers.

It’s a synergy, if you will. *motions hands together and interlocks fingers*

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