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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

US: how did an institution with a brave history of safeguarding democracy become a threat to its survival?

Danny Schechter, editor of Mediachannel.org sent me this article two days ago as a global comment on 2004. His thoughts can be compared with Mark Glaser views (see former posting today). They seem belonging to two different planets. Schechter writes that "It has not been a good year for journalists and journalism... The big fear, as journalists die, is that journalism itself may soon follow. Some years back, I read a book about the emergence of the "post journalism era" cataloging the abandonment of a commitment to real news in the news business. It spoke of how packaging and "mechanics" and compression and infotainment defines the new uber-merged corporate media order. At the time, that indictment seemed alarmist, and premature. Not any more..."

"The Committee's State of the Media report showed a system that is devolving and losing credibility. Here were a few of the main findings:

1. A growing number of news outlets are chasing relatively static or even shrinking audiences for news. That audience decline, in turn, is putting pressures on revenues and profits.

2. Much of the new investment in journalism today is in disseminating the news, not in collecting it. Most sectors of the media are cutting back in the newsroom. While there are exceptions, in general journalists face real pressures trying to maintain quality.

3. In the 24-hour cable and online news format, there is a tendency toward a jumbled, chaotic, repetitive and partial quality in some reports, without much synthesis or even the ordering of the information.

4. Journalistic standards now vary even inside a single news organization. Companies are trying to reassemble and deliver to advertisers a mass audience for news not in one place, but across different programs, products and platforms. To do so, some are varying their news agenda, their rules on separating advertising from news and even their ethical standards.

The last item makes projecting a consistent sense of identity and brand more difficult for news organizations, reinforcing a public perception that the news media lack professionalism and a sense of any duty to the public interest."

Not at all the atmosphere of self-congratulations that I denounced in the Mark Glaser article.

Source: Mediachannel.org. See also Danny Schechter's article in Editor & Publisher (Press still falling down on Iraq).

Posted by Bertrand Pecquerie on December 22, 2004 at 06:47 PM in a. Citizen journalism, c. Multimedia convergence, i. Future of print, n. Online strategies | Permalink

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