Sunday, April 22, 2012

Trending: The Dangers of Digital Journalism

Trending:  The Dangers of Digital Journalism

By Meg Curtis

042212 Patrick B. Pexton flashes a warning red light on digital journalism in “The Post Fails a Young Blogger.” Indicting his own publisher, the Washington Post, he reveals a world where journalists must function like computers, or hit the junk pile.
Bloggers appear to be in the forefront of this trend.  Pexton describes a young blogger’s work load as typically involving the production of almost six posts each day, with posts reaching a length, perhaps, of five hundred words.

According to Pexton, the young blogger’s challenge was not just length.  Plagiarism waited like a shark, ready to pick off the youngest and least experienced writers, who created aggregate articles for blogPost, the Washington Post’s own foray into covering news by blogging.    

Thus, without belaboring this second trend, Pexton reveals not only that traditional papers are under stress to meet competition from the Web, but, in fact, they already no longer exist.  Blogging has already transformed the way the Washington Post covers the news. 

Pexton’s dramatic quotations from Elizabeth Flock supply a much-needed reality check for all working journalists in the digital era.  He notes: ”She said it was only a matter of time before she made a third one [mistake]; the pressures were just too great.”

With this admission, this columnist suggests that journalism, as we know it, has already reached a dead end.  What should be a dream job turned into a nightmare. 

Aggregate sites like the Drudge Report and Slate Magazine have grown even while The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times have struggled to survive.  But at what cost are the aggregates driving the traditional hard press out of business?

Pexton does not lay this contradiction at the door of technology, but this writer will.  It may be marvelous to gape at internet resources now; nevertheless, if the result is too many work products for anyone to create or enjoy, what have we done?

Without blinking an eye, the industry is killing off its up-and-comers.  It is confusing people with machines and giving machines the leadership role which belongs to humans.  When machines can read what machines write, the loop will close.

Whether humans currently stand inside or outside that mechanized communications circle may baffle even those supposedly in-the-know.  If the literacy rate keeps falling, will anyone play the blame game and keep score?  Machines: 1  Humanity:  0    

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