In the developing online news landscape, many new forms of journalism are surfacing. Unlike the past, readers no longer need to rely on the weekly/daily paper, and evening newscast to learn about current events. Instead, there are hundreds of media streams, from social media, online publications, blogs, and videos constantly being updated and uploaded on the internet. This allows readers to have local, regional, national or global news at any time at the tips of their fingers. Since, the news environment has changed so drastically in such a short time, journalism, and what is required and expected from journalists, has changed with it.
Now, journalists are expected to be hyper-accurate online and produce a constant stream of content for the readers, among many other responsibilities. Journalists have adapted quickly for the digital age. However, that is not the case for political figures, especially in terms of what rights are awarded to journalists and all others who write, produce and distribute news.
In 2013, Senator Dianne Feinstein proved that political figures are not keeping up with the changing times when she attempted to exclude non-salaried reporters and some independent media sites, like Wikileaks, from her definition of ‘real journalism.’ That opinion made a federal law protecting reporters and their sources not pass. This shield law would allow journalists to protect confidential information from the government in order to protect their sources. Other political figures do understand that news is not the same as it used to be but that still isn’t enough to get a federal protection law.
“‘But there are people who write and do real journalism, in different ways than we’re used to,’ Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y) said. ‘They should not be excluded from this bill.'”
Additionally, some of the most critical and important work is produced by bloggers but they are still struggling to be taken seriously by political figures. Bloggers often define their role as journalism critics and thought provokers. Still, in Oregon, bloggers might be excluded from attending executive sessions because they do not fit the state of Oregon’s definition of news media. Lake Oswego, Oregon’s definition of news media is below:
“Lake Oswego is considering defining media organizations as ‘institutionalized,’ ‘well-established’ and producing at least 25 percent news content.”
Clearly, this definition is exclusionary to many influential bloggers and independent media sites in Oregon and around the country. Bloggers can influence the news environment drastically, take Glenn Greenwald for example. But, it seems that they are not gaining any traction politically, even if they are writing stories that the established press would never be daring enough to cover.
When should blog commentary be taken seriously and where should the line be drawn? Or are the politicians correct in their thinking that bloggers and other small publications should be left out from traditional journalists privileges?
In the words of I.F. Stone, the investigative journalist (and first in-print ‘blogger’) who inspired some of today’s best online voices:
“The fault I find with most American newspapers is not the absence of dissent. it is the absence of news. With a dozen or so honorable exceptions, most American newspapers carry very little news. Their main concern is advertising.”