Jump on the bandwagon or get out

Posted on October 14, 2009


It’s the only message coming through in the world of online journalism: you must blog, you must tweet, you must ‘join the conversation’, or get out. Actually, never mind ‘getting out’ – you already are out. By definition. And there you were thinking that journalism on paper counts. 

This so-called Internet Manifesto, created by several German journalists, details “how journalism works today” in 17 declarations and – you guessed it – hails the internet as the way forward for journalists. 

A lot of it is pointing out the obvious, and isn’t particularly offensive – it’s a platform for freedom of speech, there are huge benefits to linking to other sites, it’s a great platform for political chit-chat, etc. It points out the fact that the internet is a new(ish) development and that to keep up with the masses and their addiction to YouTube, Wikipedia and the likes, we as journalists must also immerse ourselves. 

Ok. I agree. I’ve even finally joined Twitter, despite years of resistance.

What’s not so great, though, is the manifesto pretty much ignoring the fact that print media still exists. What about the link between print and online? What about the love that people still have for words in ink? What about the fact that people only go to news sites online because they trust the organisation behind it because it is (or was) a reputable broadcaster or newspaper?

That’s even without getting into the whole palaver of whether people will – or want to – use the internet. A rather high-spirited blog from Alison Gow launches an attack on anybody who doesn’t use the internet as part of their journalism, and again it’s on one track only – use it or be gone. There are no excuses in a multimedia newsroom.

The internet is great – but it is not the be all and end all of journalism. It is an additional tool. Yes, those in charge and those below them need to recognise the potential that the internet has, but there are other issues to consider too.

People will pay for print, but not online content. People still want print. But then people do want multimedia, they do want a whole online world of content, they do want all-singing, all-dancing audio-visual-interactive thingamajigs. So…


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