The drop in broadcast news viewing is now being compared to the fall in print readership, seen by newspapers, when TV channels arrived on the scene. So how do we handle this: either change or perish? That is the choice faced by legacy TV news channels at a time when we can get news on any handheld device, anywhere and anytime. Digital natives or millennials are tweaking out of traditional formats into digital version of news, and television is threatening to decline by a quarter within the next decade. Live blogging, Snapchat, Periscope, Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp have become regular tools. The main question remains: no doubt broadcast journalism remains well and alive today, but how long it can sustain this new ground reality and where do these outlet and channels go from here unless they repackage their output, to avoid becoming technologically outpaced and outdated, journalistically outmoded and economically obsolete?
On the flip side the danger is, when immediacy is here can inaccuracy be far behind? This is what is alarming when it comes to digital newscast. So let us understand the good and the bad or the ugly of broadcast journalism in the digital age. In a developing country like ours, inaccurate information readily creates havoc.
The good side of online news
Journalism is a 24/7 shop, that never ever closes, especially in today’s era of constant contact and news, about anything and everything. With the advent of news cycle that the internet and cable have produced, the need for more stories in a shorter amount of time is growing. Online journalism allows reporters to give the public any information that has already been obtained, on a breaking news story. There is no need to wait, until the entire story has been written, in order to find out the important information that reporters already know. So immediacy is the mantra, and that is good for news.
Bad or ugly side, of the online news
Immediacy over accuracy, or accuracy over immediacy? We all know that, news networks are all competing to be the first to get the breaking news out in the public domain. No doubt, incorrect information can be seen while reporting in print and broadcast news, but online reporting is carried out fast and therefore, chances of inaccuracies are much more.
It is said that a picture is a thousand words. But what happens when a fake photograph or image goes viral on line? The damage multiplies, when moving fake images or fake news videos are shared on social media platforms. Once it is out there, the real or factual information is hard to embed in the mind of the reader who has just read the fake news content. This lack of fact checking is damaging, and ruining the reputation of web journalists.
Immediacy is now being prioritized, over accuracy. Even the increase in competition in online news has the potential to glorify rumor, gossip, and hearsay. It is now harder for the reader to recognize news from a reliable source. So then who will do the role of door keeping on online journalism? That is another big question.
In addition, online journalism is also affecting the concept of transparency. Traditional values of neutrality or impartiality are facing a challenge by the new media. There is a thin line, between a professional journalist and a blogger, or citizen journalist, as we are in an age where anyone can be a publisher online. Can we categorize, a blogger or citizen journalist as an online journalist? Can bloggers and other citizen journalists be expected to work under the same codes of practice as professional journalists? I leave you with some of these questions, since there cannot be definite answers as of today, due to the ever changing matrix of the ever changing media platforms.