||Chapter 26 - Present and Future
One of the most honorable things about journalism is its willingness to question itself openly and to discuss issues surrounding its practice and its results. People within the profession have many points of view about the issues of journalism, so that referring to "the media" or "the news media" as a solid bloc of people and organizations is misleading and often betrays a misunderstanding on the part of those who use those terms.
This chapter outlines some of the concerns that journalism faces and how some people see those concerns as affecting journalism's future. What journalism will be like five, ten or twenty years from now is impossible to say. What is safest to predict is that journalism -- especially with the continued development of the web -- will change.
Another safe prediction is that the profession will continue to need people who are well educated, widely read, facile with the language, and able to analyze and distill information with confidence and accuracy. Those people will make the best journalists of the future.
- What, if anything, does the story of Jessica Lynch tell us about the state of journalism?
- What is mean by journalism being an "open profession"?
- In general, what the financial state of news media organizations?
- In what ways is bias a problem for journalists?
- How is the audience for the news media changing?
- What are the recruitment problems that the field of journalism faces?
State of the news media. The Committee of Concerned Journalists annually produces an extensive report on The State of the News Media. The report is a long one but certainly worth the time of anyone concerned about the practice of journalism.
Changes coming. The author of Journalism: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How is also the author of Web Journalism: Practice and Promise of a New Medium. (http://www.ablongman.com/ catalog/academic/product/ 0,1144,0205353983,00.html) In that book, he studies how the web will change the practice of journalism in the near future. The most profound change, he says, will come from the web's characteristic of interactivity. That will bring the audience closer to journalists and the practice of journalism. One example of this is the practice of web logging -- or blogging -- where non-journalists can publish information and opinions and build an audience for their web logs. If you do not read a web log regularly, try these two for a few days and see what you think: Instapundit by Glenn Reynolds and Wonkette by Ana Marie Cox.
Jessica Lynch. The chapter begins with the story of Jessica Lynch, the soldier who was captured the first weeks of the Iraqi war in 2003 and later rescued by fellow soldiers. The Project for Excellence in Journalism has researched the coverage of her case, and the report about it (http://journalism.org/resources/research/reports/war/postwar/lynch.asp) can be found on the Journalism.org web site.
Key concepts and terms
• Journalism is a profession where even the most basic questions such as the nature of news and the process of gathering and disseminating it are being examined and debated continuously.
• Journalism is an open profession; anyone can be a journalist without undergoing any training and gaining any credentials.
• Media organizations are generally in good financial health.
• One of the things that makes the future uncertain for journalism is the presence of the World Wide Web; no one can see clearly how it might change the practice or nature of journalism.
• Journalists today struggle with the question of how to remain relevant to their audiences.
• Attracting bright, thoughtful young people into journalism is one of the great challenges of today's profession.