Dumbing down

We still can’t get away from the never ending stories and blogs about the death of newspapers, and whether e-readers can “save” newspapers. So let’s try this approach — the debate shouldn’t be about whether any one device will save newspapers, but whether we’ll save the ability to produce strong, independent journalism.

Information will be available on a number of different devices — print, online, mobile and e-readers. The newspaper part could very well be an abbreviated version of what we currently see, either in the days of the week we get print or product size.

But who’s going to produce that content? To think that bloggers and community folks can fill the local content void is naive. Maybe I’m too old school about this, but I firmly believe that there will be, for the longterm, a demand for quality information. Not the talk TV, scream until you’re hoarse opinion that masquerades as news; not the off-the-cuff opinions widely available on the web; not the uninformed blabbering that often gets facts wrong.

I’m talking quality information from trained journalists who play a story down the middle, with no adjectives that force an agenda, no leading questions that slant an issue. Don’t get me wrong. There are some bloggers and community folks that can do just fine uncovering local tidbits that will prove interesting to their communities.  But those folks are few and far between because they don’t and often can’t invest the time, committment and expense it takes to uncover information.

And how many of them can really tell you something of significance that you didn’t know? Take a look at the information journalists produce everyday (and remember, be platform agnostic).  Take a look at the information they provide everyday, and you”ll see that’s what they do. Don’t believe me?Just look at your local newspaper and ask yourself: where would I get this information if not from journalists?

Without that information, we stand a real risk of dumbing down America, which will only hear the noise and not what matters. Forget about savings  newspapers. We need to save journalism.

The views expressed on this blog are mine alone.

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One thought on “Dumbing down

  1. Steve Rowe says:

    Ray,
    Unfortunately, the quality of the business model of the media outlets, and not the quality of the journalism that they contain will be the deciding factor in the question. Most major media outlets still look at the internet as a possible additional source of revenue to try to push the consumer to their primary platform, and not as a primary platform itself. They are missing both the point and the opportunity.

    Traditional media has always been limited by either the number of pages that they can print or the amount of time they have to broadcast. The internet has neither of these limitations. However, I know of no media outlet that contains more, or even as much information in their on-line version as they do in their traditional version.

    If you ask a journalist, was there more to the story, inevitably the answer is yes, there just was not enough time or space to include it. That is not the case online.

    Journalism will survive, however, if the media outlets do not face the facts of our modern world and the electronic media available, they will not be a player in the future. Then the question will be, in what form will journalism exist and how will you be able to determine who is truly a professional journalist giving you the facts, and who is a untrained, non-profesional idealogs,who is espousing their agenda?

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