Forum

News takes a backseat to blogging

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

There are more news sources and a greater volume of investigation and analysis than ever before. The Internet, and blogging in particular, has made it easy for independent journalists and pundits to let their voices cry out across the digital expanse. Yet news is dying.

The BBC recently announced it was cutting several of its foreign language broadcasts to save money. Along with wire services like the Associated Press and Reuters, the BBC is the gold standard for getting news untainted by opinion. That is not to say that the journalists writing for these services have no editorial opinion, but that they consciously avoid including it.

Bloggers, for the most part, have no such compunction. They mix facts and opinions without differentiating between the two. They lack training in journalistic ethics, and they rarely have editors to ensure their articles are factual. In this new journalistic paradigm, quantity takes precedence over quality. Ten thousand tweets might not have the same journalistic value as a single well-researched, professionally edited feature story. It might take reading a hundred blog posts to form the same knowledge base that a handful of professional journalistic outlets provide.

The world of new media is one where reputation means both more and less than it used to. The reputation of Perez Hilton, while considerable, is different in kind than that of The New York Times or The Guardian. When one of these newspapers prints something, readers can usually assume it has been duly edited. This also holds true for magazines with respected editorial practices such as Vanity Fair and Time. With the advent of Twitter, celebrities have been able to “die” on the Internet — Fidel Castro, Amy Winehouse, and Bill Cosby have all been mourned by the Twitterverse, only to later prove that they are, in fact, still quite alive. Such are the dangers of unmoderated, unedited, democratic media.

Blogs, Twitter, and Facebook have their place. But that place is not where institutions like the BBC have stood for decades. The unadulterated voice of the masses is too raucous to comprehend. Without fact-checking, without enforced journalistic integrity, the future of the news is bleak. It may be that news will be reborn as something new, something that is objective only in the aggregate. That is the future of news that Twitter and Facebook promise. There will be ever more information, ever more opinion, but ever less quality.