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Journalism and new media: friends or foes?

“New media disseminates information faster than a speeding daily.”

There is much talk about journalism and new media either working for or against each other. Many professional journalists say that new media is merely a manner of delivering the message. This therefore, is not journalism. But some argue the fact that digital age has opened its doors to a new kind journalism, where non-professionals are welcome to collect, report, analyze and disseminate news and information. A name was even coined for these journalists  — the citizen journalists.

Indeed, technology has provided us new ways of collecting, analyzing and disseminating news and information. It is a tool that has made news and information for many people (with computers and internet connection), more interactive and more interesting. Finally, the public can join in the bandwagon. Through digital cameras and celphones with camers, they can take photos and videos of what is happening out there. Through platforms such as YouTube, WordPress and Flickr, they can quickly self-broadcast and self-publish their messages. And through social networking platforms, the people they know and the people who these people know, are easily alerted about what is going on. (Hours after this article was published, a Turkish Airlines plane crashed in Schiphol Airport and the first images of the crash was found on Twitter. -ed.) But did the involvement of these non-professionals make the so-commonly criticized fourth estate better or worse?

For non-professionals, that is barely of importance. Maybe they don’t even realize that it is a kind of journalism that they do. What matters to them is to be able to share information and have their own voice. You barely hear or read communication professionals raising arms against citizen journalism too. Questions are only raised when it comes to objectivity and professionalism. But is it journalism?

Journalists can create blogs and are free to self-publish (and hopefully self-regulate). The last time I checked, we still (mostly) live in a democracy. The new media is a good tool to disseminate information. But that in itself does not constitute journalism. I can create a blog and write about my pet, put pictures of my family there, write an article about my last birthday, but that is not journalism. It is a way of reaching out to friends and family far away and let them know what’s going on. It is my way of disseminating information. But that is not journalism. New media can be used for journalism, but it is not journalism. (This website is also a mirror of my opinions and a collection of my work and stories but it is not journalism. It just so happened that journalism is what I do.)

It has always been said that journalism is the mirror of society. New media is getting more and more popularity because it disseminates information faster than a speeding daily. But if there are about 7 billion people in the world and only about a billion and a half computers, what happens to the other 5.5 billion who do not get the information digitally? If there are no computers in the areas where these 6 billion other people live, what kind of information do they get? I really wonder. Are we even mirroring the half of society? Or are we seemingly mirroring the exclusive society of those who have computers, internet connection and complete understanding of the world wide web?

Breakthroughs in technology can not be stopped. And journalism (in many different media) is here to stay as long as people need and want to get informed. Journalism and new media can be friends or foes depending only on how one uses it. But if we will base it on the current world internet usage statistics, it seems that it will take new media a long way to succeed and take over journalism. Besides, even people who use computers love the feel of newspaper in their hands. #

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