Is the Fourth Estate Being Eroded by the New Media ?

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COMM 332 News: Content and Practice Assignment 1

David Robbins

Student: 097047659

TOPIC 1: Is the Fourth Estate being eroded by the new media?

Serious journalism, or the Fourth Estate, which accurately informs the public and scrutinises the powerful, according to the pundits, is an endangered species and its demise is fairly imminent.1 Although mainstream journalism has been eroded by a combination of emerging new communications technology and the self inflicted wounds of the business of journalism, the Fourth Estate is gradually being transformed. The integration of new media is reshaping journalism into a new and potentially better form.2 The Fourth Estate has been eroded by the new media. Both newspaper circulation and advertising revenues are in decline as the print media audience seeks greener pastures online.3 Broadcasting too has become dramatically affected by a persistent loss of audiences and revenue. With the increasing popularity of online social networking, television has ceased to be the fundamental source of people’s entertainment, news and information.4 As a consequence of the attrition of the Fourth Estate, there has been a widespread reduction in resources and staff numbers. This siphoning off of resources from the newsroom has led inexorably to a decline in journalistic standards, exacerbated a 1

S, Hinchcliff -Pearson, ‘The Hard Truths About Journalism’, Centre for Internet and Society, Stanford Law School, 2009, Downloaded from, September 7, 2010. J Pavlik, ‘ Introduction: Understanding the impact of New Media on Journalism’ in Journalism and New Media ,Columbia University Press, 2001 ,pp xi-xii 3 2

J Ewart, ‘News Connections: Regional Newspapers and the Web’, in New Media Technologies, Issue 7, 2003. N, Goc, ‘The Fourth (or Fifth) Estate’ in Media and Journalism: New approaches to theory and practice, Oxford University Press, 2008 pg



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COMM 332 News: Content and Practice Assignment 1

David Robbins

Student: 097047659

pre-existing disconnection with audiences and promoted the further dissipation of their trust in the traditional press.5 It is the dynamic connection between society and technology that determines our communication practices, and in the erosion of the Fourth Estate we are witnessing the revolutionary impact of new media on the audience, and consequently upon mainstream journalism.6 Previously the receivers of one sided communication from the press, the audience has embraced, with increasing enthusiasm, an accessible new media and have, unfortunately, contributed to a deleterious amateurisation of journalism.7 Engaged with the tools of the new media, anyone by snapping a photo or downloading a video onto You Tube may call themselves a journalist, while completely disregarding the ethics and values of the profession.8 An audience engaged with new media may encourage pluralism of choice, or even reenergise the public sphere.9 Nevertheless in altering the relationship between the Fourth Estate and the public, in dislocating journalists and editors as gatekeepers and the professional content providers of information and scrutiny of government, 5

J Haines ‘The Implications of New Media Technologies on the Fourth Estate: The Power of Non Journalistic Images in the War in Iraq.’ Master of Arts in Social Sciences Thesis, University of Chicago, 2006. Downloaded from, September 8, 2010. T. Flew, ‘Introduction to new media’, New Media: An Introduction, Oxford University Press, pp 4-5, 2008.



M, Gladwell, ‘The New Media Landscape: The fifth Estate’, Max Gladwell: Social Media, Geolocation and Green Living December 27, 2008, Downloaded from September 11, 2010.

M Glaser, ‘Your Guide to Citizen Journalism’, Public Broadcasting Service, Sept. 27, 2006, Downloaded from...
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