Jeff Nolan posted earlier here today in brief on the need for the media to let go of traditional definitions of journalism. I’ve had conversations with those involved with media from all levels, from the beat reporter to the blogger, from the pundit to the presidents of papers. Without much variation, almost all writers and producers from Heritage Media tend to look down on all other forms of news reporting and dissemination with disdain.
Those same folks like to characterize the transition of dominance from Old Media to New as an assault or erosion of journalism, but it’s really a malady that generally affects only Old or Heritage Media.
There’s a story today in Slashdot (and the New York Times) that shows that continuing to dilute the definition of journalism may serve to subvert the increasing restrictions on free speech in Great Britain, and could be construed as an actual assault on journalism itself:
In Britain, libel laws are censoring the ability of journalists to write stories about bogus science. Simon Singh, a Ph.D. physicist and author of several best-selling popular-science books, is currently being sued by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) for saying that there is no evidence for claims that visiting a chiropractor has health benefits. A year earlier, writer Ben Goldacre faced a libel suit for an article critical of Matthias Rath, who claimed that vitamin supplements can treat HIV and AIDS in place of conventional drugs like anti-retrovirals. In Britain, libel laws don’t have any presumption of innocence — any statement made is assumed to be false unless you prove it’s true. Journalists are running scared.
In what we do here at SiliconANGLE, we don’t pretend to be journalists in the sense of everything being completely unbiased, just the facts reporting. We know we don’t have the discipline nor the inclination for that, nor do the people who follow us (that is to say, you) have the discipline or inclination to read it on a daily basis.
We’re a combination of enthusiasts, hobbyists, professionals, evangelists and pundits, with a natural effect of some news reporting emerging through the conversations we have on this site. This is the New Media, and it isn’t exactly new anymore, but it’s how news is increasingly getting reported.
How does this help the Brits? I have to admit I’m not an expert in English law, but I’d have to assume that there are, as a result of this case and others like it, no more protections for journalist subjects of the crown any longer, which is frankly one of the only reasons left one would want to hold that title.
Old school journalists are still respected in society in the US and abroad, but their careers are clearly in danger, as the organizations that employ straight reporters are shrinking by the day. If society and governments transition collectively to a position where that respect and protection is gone, there is little reason left for them to continue to exist as a profession.
What we’re left with is they New Media, which consists of everything from Hyper-Local efforts, to individual bloggers, to the public timelines of Twitter and Facebook, to mid-level industry and regional web-only publications.
I think I’m fine with the prospect of the new landscape being New Media dominant. Are you?