Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Is online journalism the future?

The Times have recently started charging for their online material. Cynics would argue that this is a money grabbing effort by the Murdoch Empire - a large proportion of me would tend to agree. But we're used to the Murdoch sword wielding and whirling its way through the worlds media. The interesting side to this new development is whether by charging for its content, the Times have set a precedent that other online newspapers will follow and therefore stating the claim that online journalism is the future for the profession. This topic has been rearing its head for a while and has been debated fiercely by journalists and media types alike.

Personally I see online newspapers as a brief catch-up to the news. I couldn't see myself replacing an actual newspaper with its internet counterpart. This is partly because I enjoy the freedom of being able to take a newspaper anywhere (Apple would argue that the iPad has this role, but I see it as a go-between a phone and a laptop - and not really achieving the greatness of either) Partly because I find reading a computer screen for an extended amount of time difficult. Also, I think that although the Times has broken the mould by charging for its content, its actual website and news is inferior to say that of the Guardian. Subconsciously, as a Guardian reader I'm probably more likely to gravitate towards its output, making my last point seem massively biased. Certainly that is the case with its news; I like the Guardian's journalists so therefore I am bound to like its online articles. But in terms of structure, layout and being user-friendly, I genuinely believe the Guardian online is leagues ahead of all other British newspapers offerings.

However, that is slightly off the point. My question was is online journalism the future? Well in truth, yes I think it is. I don't think it has the credibility or accountability of print or broadcasting, but you just have to look at the numbers of bloggers and people that read online content, to realise that whether you like it or not, the internet is home to a plethora of journalists. A lot of it is rubbish. Some of it is outstanding. I don't think the newspaper will die, not just yet anyway, but it has been steadily declining for decades and the internet is booming. The real question is how online journalism will be managed? Well that is something I certainly don't have the answer to.

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