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Good Guys Finish Last? Is rapid journalism more beneficial or detrimental to traditional news outlets in the wake of independent publishing platforms?

by on October 28, 2015

After watching the episode of “The Newsroom” in class, I wondered if it was really necessary for media outlets to push out content so fast after an event, although it risks having many errors. The motivation for this, as seen on the show, is because traditional news outlets compete with each other to release content that largely ends up being scraps of what already trended independent media outlets minutes prior.

This in turn creates many conflicts. As mentioned, traditional news outlets end up creating many factual errors regarding events. These can range from minor to very significant details, such as in the Sandy Hook initial report, where Adam Lanza’s brother was initially identified as the shooter. This beckons the ethical question of whether it is more important to have rapid media with the possibility of mistakes or a more relaxed approach to news coverage that may take longer but is more accurate. It is essentially a matter of quantity over quality.

This was blatantly seen in the episode when a woman in the newsroom kept urging the producers to start running a story based on the approximate 20,000 tweets she was following regarding the bombing incident. The response she received was that it was not worthy or real because it was Twitter.

However, social media and other individual platforms are gaining more credibility in the journalistic world. Their brief and rapid capabilities allow for news to be ingested quickly and efficiently. While overlapping content and sharing ideas is shamed in among competing traditional news outlets, retweeting is a benevolent gesture of acknowledgment on an independent social platform.

Joe Pulizzi, received an impressive amount of views on his Linkedin blog post entitled, “Traditional Media Cant Compete With Your Content.”

He says, “Independent, traditional media operations will always have a place in the world. But let’s be honest, there is no way traditional media can compete for attention with the sheer resources of non-media companies and our “everyone is a publisher” world.”

There is definite truth in his words. This emphasizes the role of the traditional news outlet and compares them to, for example, a 15-year-old girl tweeting about the same topic. The double-standard of Traditional news outlets act superior towards independent publishing yet operate on a double standard. For instance, while this young girl is disregarded on Twitter, she could be quoted by a reporter for a story saying the exact same thing.  There is an idea of branding and reclaiming the news here by traditional outlets as if they take the ownership of extracting that idea even though it is not theirs. They act as if they prompted her to share, when she could have just expressed her views on Twitter, thus the point of independent publishing.

In an article for entitled, ‘Why independent journalism is challenging the mass media,’ Jamie Kelsey-Fry, contributing editor to New Internationalist magazine, says, “The time is ripe for a new platform of credible alternative media outlets that can make the corporate owned mainstream obsolete and show it for what it is, the servant to a system that is unjust, undemocratic, unsustainable and broken.”

While traditional media outlets do need to take ownership of their wrongdoings, they are trying to thrive and co-exist in a survival of the fittest type journalistic world. They are dependent on money and funding and therefore need to have enough views to continue to stay in business. Does that then weaken the credibility of traditional media outlets, knowing that their allegiance lies to the business’s that sustain them whereas a young girl posting on her Twitter account has no incentive other than expressin her thoughts?

Which sounds more reliable to you?


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