Response to – Is the authority of the press really weakened by the Internet? Hold your thoughts!

In the post, “Audience Atomization Overcome: Why the Internet Weakens the Authority of the Press,” Jay Rosen discusses three regions that according to Daniel Hallin explain journalism in the United States.  Although interesting, I find that his argument is at times too limiting.  For one, I don’t think that journalism in this country can so easily be divided into three spheres.  Although he does mention that the “three spheres are not really separate; they create one another, like the public and private do.” (pg. 2), making the model less rigid, I still find this three part model rather rigid. For one, it doesn’t take into account, like Rosen mentions, the significant influence of digital news platforms.

Considering that Rosen wrote the post in 2009, we can perhaps accept that he didn’t expand on this last point.  However, in 2012 we can no longer have a legitimate discussion about any definition of journalism without discussing the effect of the internet and digital platforms.

On this subject, I agree when Mariana says that, “The difference between a journalist and a political “apasionado” and bloggers in this point is that a newsman will always rely on official, known, proven to be reliable and accurate sources to get the facts straight and will always rely on checking the accuracy of those facts.”  Nonetheless, there are legitimate journalists that write for blogs and who certainly fact-check what they’re reporting.   They might certainly not be the majority, but like any other relatively new media platform, we need to allow time to show us the shape that it will ultimately take.

Political Players

In her post, Mariana also discusses the following quote by Rosen, “one of the problems with our political press is that its reference group for establishing the “ground” of consensus is the insiders: the professional political class in Washington.” She responds by saying that, “Truth is, if a journalist is writing about politics, who are supposed to be his sources? The players. Who else? A journalist cannot interview the whole American public, that’s why it relies on research and studies done at the different respects.”  I agree with her that as political journalists we often rely on “the players,” those in the political professional class that are immersed in the subject.  But I also appreciate Rosen’s criticism.  As journalists, counting on a “reference group” can make us too comfortable, and let’s be honest, even lazy.  It’s imperative that we look outside the established political insiders and at least consider others that might present a distinct dialogue.

The historian and the journalist

The last point I’d like to address is Mariana’s statement comparing history to journalism.  She states that, “…journalism can be a lot like history, since both analyze facts and interpret them…the historian bias due to his social, cultural, familiar, educational, health related, socio-economic, geographical background will interfere deeply and directly in his interpretation of the facts, whether he is aware of it or not.”  I agree that it’s human nature to be biased in some way.  As journalists, even in trying to remain unbiased, our experiences will undoubtedly affect how we report on a story.  However, I am not sure that this will ever change or that it should.

Overall, I’d like to know how Rosen would discuss Hallin’s three-sphere model in 2012.  What has changed?  Mariana on her end, did a good job in presenting Rosen’s most important arguments while also adding some though-provoking elements of her own.

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