It’s too easy to predict the slow demise of journalism. We’ve heard the concerns before. The advent of the internet opened the floodgates, diluting editorial standards. The blogosphere ushered in an era where opinion is king and accuracy counts for little. The dwindling of the traditional newsroom leaves politicians from all sides devoid of the necessary scrutiny.
Let the doomsters have their say, but their pessimism is misplaced. Whenever an established industry undergoes fast-paced change, people warn of a race to the bottom. Quality, however, has an uncanny ability to survive. Give it time and some room to breathe, and it will invariably rise back to the surface in new, interesting forms.
The inherent quality of online news delivery is its interconnectedness. Readers click through pages at varying speeds, accruing scraps of information and piecing together a variety of perspectives as they go. It creates an information mosaic that leaves the individual better placed to comprehend a situation in fast time. Once your head is acclimated to the potentially dizzying number of starting-off points and avenues to follow, you quickly realize the latent power of the resource.
Take a content aggregator like Google News. Of course, any aggregator is bound by its internal algorithms, and nobody pretends that Google actually writes the content it presents. But the breadth and depth of stories available on Google News at any point in time is testimony to the fresh, dynamic ways of accessing news content from anywhere in the world.
While debate over who pays to sustain newsgathering operations rumbles on, one thing is certain. The floodgates are open, and the inflow of news content has prompted a sea change that is difficult to reverse.