Impact of the Internet on News Media Professionalism

Topics: World Wide Web, Internet, Journalism Pages: 5 (1593 words) Published: March 13, 2011

In 1998 the Web-based bookstore claimed to offer more than 100 new books on the topic of the World Wide Web. Books which can be considered to be quite outdated at the time of writing this particular essay. The relevance of these and other publications lies therefore predominantly the tools they can offer in understanding the impact new media technologies have on different aspects of society over time. Certainly the Internet has gained in popularity among scholars in the communications field, especially after the special issue of the authoritative Journal of Communication on the topic in 1996, special issues of journals like Convergence and the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication (online) and the introduction of a new journal on the topic called New Media & Society. In terms of journalism the trade periodicals in most Western countries – Der Journalist in Germany, De Journalist in The Netherlands, the Columbia Journalism Review in the US, the British Journalism Review in Great Britain and the Australian Journalism Review in Australia to name but a few – have addressed the topic over and over again since the first journalistic Websites came online (since 1992 in the US and elsewhere, see Lapham, 1995).

The central questions which have been addressed to some extent in these publications can be summarized as: 1. What kind of business model works for journalism online (i.e. where can we make profit)? 2. Will traditional newsmedia or even traditional news values dissappear because of the Internet? 3. Should there be journalism at all online?

4. If the answer to question 3 is "Yes", what kind of journalism should it be and what kind of skills are required of journalists working for and with the Internet? PURPOSE OF STUDY
This paper aims to offer some thoughts on how to answer this question in three steps. First a brief sketch of the two key developments in journalism and new media technologies in the last decade or so addresses the state of the art in ejournalism: as it impacts upon all journalists through Computer-Assisted Reporting (CAR) and upon a specific 'group' of media professionals through the establishment of online journalism. Secondly data from a 1999 survey of online journalists in The Netherlands the self-perceptions and the dilemmas of this new group of media professionals are analyzed, with a specific focus on an emerging new 'mindset' of newsmedia professionalism in an online environment. Thirdly we will examine how these insights might inform us in addressing some of the ‘buzzwords’ regarding the future developments in ejournalism: annotative reporting (Paul, 1995; Bardoel, 1996), open- source journalism (Moon, 1999) and the concept of hyperadaptivity (Guay, 1995; Nelson, 1999).

A first step has to be made in terms of the developments on the technological front and the ways in which these developments are making inroads into our understanding of journalism. Computerization in all sectors of society has taken place in particularly Western capitalist democracies - with effects on the way the economy and society operates. Practically all media companies have switched to computer network systems, electronic communication traffic and the ‘paperless office’ are topics of debate in management circles and the convergence of media as well as the fact that the television set, video player and personal computer have found their way into an increasing number of West-European, North-American and Australasian households are signs of the high impact of technology on all aspects of life. The Internet as it can be considered to be affecting journalism in general and the professional ideology of journalism in particular will be discussed here in two ways: how it has made inroads into newsrooms and desktops of journalists working for all media types in terms of...
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