The journalism industry has long been perceived as an exclusive club of pedigreed truth-tellers whose printed words delivered cold, hard facts to the general public.
With the advance of the internet, journalism as we know it is changing. With multimedia storytelling tools and a limitless platform in which to share stories, anyone can be a “journalist” now. Journalists used to be the only reliable sources of news, but with access to the internet, the once huge-seeming world has become much smaller, and everyday citizens have become more like fact-checking watchdogs, can share their opinions on what’s being covered in the news, are now calling out “authoritative” news sources on their BS. Media outlets and journalism as an industry are being held to a much higher standard, and with access to plenty of underground, grassroots-led new sources, the major networks that we once revered as losing major cred and need to re-earn the respect of their audience by being truthful and cutting edge in their news delivery.
Also, as journalism becomes more and more tied to the politics of business (i.e. many newspapers and media outlets are owned by larger corporations), what reporters choose to cover is more likely to serve an agenda as well, which inherently violates the trust of the audience that the story being told is unbiased. (But then again, are stories ever unbiased?)
Additionally, journalism as a field is changing. It’s become much more data-driven, especially as data is becoming more readily available through data mining efforts, and the audience is responding well to more visual interpretations of data like infographics– while numbers can be manipulated to support a certain point of view, I think the audience is generally pretty savvy in determining fact from outright manipulation, and if it becomes clear that any interpretation is less than kosher, the internet community rings the alarm and the media outlet in question loses cred. Additionally, journalism as a written craft is also becoming less strict with its rules. It used to be that being a journalist meant having expertise in grammatical and literary conventions; now, with the acceptance of informal “internet speak,” there’s more forgiveness of things like misspellings and written faux pas, and written conventions are falling to the wayside as digital/internet conventions take precedence.
I think journalism as we currently know it is going to fade with the baby boomer generation– it feels like we’re keeping certain journalistic conventions because it keeps that audience happy (by retaining something they’re familiar with); the younger generation is ready for the new. Journalism itself isn’t dying; in fact, journalism and storytelling will become as important as ever as the world becomes smaller and smaller and everyday people want/have access to more information about the world, but it certainly is evolving. Stories will always have their place, but it’s how we tell and share them that is changing.