New frontiers in journalism | Page 2 | Daily News

New frontiers in journalism

This newspaper celebrates a century of publishing tomorrow. Although it has ventured into smartphone apps and websites with videos, it remains a print publication at heart. Just as radio was initially threatened by the advent of television but learned to thrive, traditional newspapers have reacted with trepidation to the rise of “Internet Journalism” but ultimately learned to live with it.

This newspaper itself a good example, having launched Sri Lanka’s first web edition of a print newspaper way back in 1995, when the Internet was in its infancy not only in Sri Lanka but also in developed countries. Since then, the Daily News website has been featuring breaking news and videos, just two items which are currently impossible with printed newspapers. Note the term “currently impossible” – paper thin disposable and flexible displays that can display videos may one day replace newsprint, as seen in the hit movie Minority Report. In the meantime, the physical newspaper will remain as we know it.

While almost all printed newspapers are now available on the Internet either for free or through a pay wall, there is a whole new class of newspaper that owes its existence to the World Wide Web. This is the so-called “Internet or Web newspaper” that has no equivalent print edition. In other words, it exists solely on the Net.

These too fall into two broad categories. There are web publications that follow certain editorial standards and ethics guidelines which generally adhere to journalistic tenets such as fact-checking and reporting both sides of a story. In the other category are web publications that follow no such norms. They just specialize in mudslinging against institutions and individuals whom they do not like with nary a thought given to truth and objectivity.

This, in a way, is the problem with the Internet. In the vast realm of cyberspace, anyone can post virtually anything and get away with it. This has given rise to the phenomenon of “fake news” – news that masquerades as real news but is not true at all. The recent debate over “plastic rice” is a clear example. There is no business case or rationale for making plastic rice, but this did not prevent thousands from sharing it online. In fact, “social media” sites such as Facebook and Twitter and the ubiquitous smartphones make it rather easy for fake news to travel round the world, proving the adage that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. Facebook itself has admitted that it faces a huge problem due to fake news and automated feeds generated by chatbots and trolls.

It is impossible for Governments or any other body to control the social media and the wider Internet, but some form of self-regulation is essential at least for websites that engage in journalism or web publishing. Hence the recent proposal for a code of ethics for web journalists to create a more responsible and ethical web journalism, on the lines of the Code of Ethics for print and electronic media with special consideration given to the unique features of the Internet. These proposals were presented to President Maithripala Sirisena by the Professional Web Journalists Association.

The very fact the web journalists based in Sri Lanka have come together to form a professional association is a sign that they are keen to ensure higher journalistic and ethical standards. They do have a very responsible role to play as anything that they post online is picked up immediately by thousands all over the world and shared at the speed of light. The Association is thus a step in the right direction as it will lay the guidelines for responsible and ethical reporting. There is no idea yet whether independent bloggers, vloggers and citizen journalists will join this effort but the society as a whole will benefit if they do.

The boundaries between print, electronic and web media are now dissolving as they converge on each other. All print and electronic media stations have a presence on the Net while web media regularly highlight newspaper headlines and cartoons. No type of media can exist in isolation in today’s 24/7 multi-media world. In the face of intense competition, they have to offer innovative content across all available platforms, including smartphone apps, Facebook and Twitter.

There is some debate over whether the traditional newspapers and “dead-tree” books will survive the electronic delivery revolution or disappear in the next few decades, but one thing is clear – there will always be a place for good journalism, correct news and verifiable facts. In other words, it is the content that matters and not the medium of delivery per se. As stated by C.P. Scott, the veteran editor of the Manchester Guardian which celebrated its own centenary just three years after the Daily News began publishing in Colombo, “facts are sacred but comment is free”.

Newspapers will survive well into the next few centuries, may be not as we know it, but offering that same emotional connection to readers who seek the truth. 


There is 1 Comment

Changes are many. Colonial rule changing politicians political process technology it's progress. Conflicts confusion in the country wars murders rapesin society child abuses women's progress their victimization continue. Political promises words not deeds in many cases. Religion is it respected use it to create division ill will . Wonder how media yours included will educate dociety comments logo of laws education economy social progress respect to human rights in future.


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