Trust me, I’m a journalist?

James Curran is only one of many, who have shared their views on what they believe the future of journalism to look like. By discussing journalism of today, it can become easier to understand what works, what doesn’t, and what needs to change in the future.

Curran argues that the internet is enriching old journalism, is compensating for the decline of print journalism and because of this, he believes the ultimate industry could be created if both old and new joined together. Ambitious to say the least, but he has a point.

When reading Curran’s The Future of Journalism (2010) it became clear that without trust, the relationship between reader and journalist would crumble. An idea that I believe print and online media could learn about from each other. 

The old

Curran suggests that ‘newspapers are doing more harm than good’. The fight for readership in an industry saturated in competition often results in distortion, sensationalism and shocking headlines. This can lead to public misunderstanding, yet readers trust the story because they trust the name of the paper. Can this kind of manipulation be justified, just because the paper has earned a trustworthy reputation? Or has public enlightenment simply been lost to competitive print media, who can abuse trust in order to sell papers?

The new

Bloggers are faced with an opposite situation. Readers may not have heard of the blog, but can get to know the writer through online interaction to gain trust. They do not have the professional training of a journalist, so you wouldn’t necessarily trust them to deliver hard news. But given that they haven’t been handed the reputation of a recognised paper, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They must work for a reputation off their own backs which is a time-consuming process that requires hard graft and for no pay.

So why do they do it?

Bloggers hold a burning passion for their chosen topics. A passion has arguably been lost in ‘creative cannibalisation’ that is churned out in newspapers to keep up with demand.

If anything, it is the bloggers who are keeping old journalism alive, (hear me out). They have a hunger to write, have the time to research, and most of all, have readers who trust them, real journalism. Blogs are free, so of course it can’t quite be as simple as that. But it certainly holds some truth.

The readers

Curran believes that ‘journalism will find its future when it finds its audience.’ So who is getting it wrong? From what I have discussed, it would appear that bloggers are the ‘journalists’ who know their readers. But in Britain, 79% of users in 2008 had not read a blog in the past 3 months. Bloggers may be able to interact and get to know their readers but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have many to talk to. 

The solution

If print journalists were removed from the comfort of their newspaper’s reputation, would we still trust them? Perhaps the secret to a successful online convergence lies in the trust of the journalists as individuals, so that we can erase the reliance of a brand name to find ‘good journalism’, provide support independant and local media outlets, and create a more positive future for journalism.

If only it was that easy…

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