Shirky portrayed amateurization as the demise of professional journalism, which I agree to some extent as indeed, with cheap publishing tools available online, virtually (no pun intended), anyone can be a journalist or a photographer. However, as much as the society continues to undergo evolution, (sounds Darwinian eh?), newspaper and the professional journalism industry will undergo evolution too. As much as the blogosphere has created a new eco-system, so can the newspaper join in and form a new eco-system of communications. What we see now as a threat might become an opportunity.
When the television and radio came into the picture, news were reported almost immediately as they happened. The newspaper content had to then become a source of analysis and advice for the people on how to deal with the situation. Since now that newspaper is a space-bias medium according to Marshall McLuhan and each event that is happening has to be certified as “newsworthy” by the editorial (professional) gatekeepers before it gets the professional press coverage, other smaller events that are rejected by the gatekeepers can be covered by the bloggers. There is a form of division of labor. The bloggers will cover their own news, and use the Internet as a test bed for the public’s reaction. If there is a lot of public reaction towards the event, the professional press will do more in-depth coverage about the particular event. In this way, resources will be efficiently allocated to the right news.
While the future outlook of journalism may not seem that bleak, I have a concern regarding the ambiguous definition of a journalist in this time and age. If a journalist is someone who publishes and writes something, then any blogger is a journalist, anyone who disseminates information via email is a journalist too. And if they are all subjected to the privileges journalists have, chaos will ensue.
Anyone in the name of an investigative journalist can call any company and request for private data, using the Information Act as an authority. And in the first place, which professional editor has warrant that an investigation be carried out? Who made the company worth an expose? To whom is this “journalist” working for? For the people and their right to know or for his own selfish agenda (supposed he is a rival company spy who happens to be a blogger and made use of the loophole in the definition of a journalist to abuse his privilege?) Hence, there needs to be a professional body that defines what it means to be a journalist. It all boils down to professionalism again. Though Shirky paints a picture that professional journalists are becoming obsolete like the scribes, there is after all, a need for us to keep the freedom and amateurism efficient.
1) What is the difference between a professional journalist and a blogger?
2) How will the gatekeeping system of news change in the future with the rise of the blogosphere?