I’m not sure how many times I’ve had to state this sentence to people who feel as if it’s their business to comment on my current college major; “oh, well it doesn’t really matter, that’s a dying field anyway!” accompanied by a hearty laugh whenever I offer my “I’m majoring in Journalism at Ithaca College” into conversation.
Because it’s not as if people don’t need the news. Are physical hard copy papers dying off? Absolutely. But is that because people have stopped caring? In fact, it’s the opposite. They’ve turned to a platform where they can offer their information and voice their opinions – the internet.
In Will Bunch’s article “A Landmark for Bloggers — and the Future of Journalism”, he writes that the George Polk Awards honored a blogger for the first time in 2008, which marked a huge turning point in investigative and muckraking journalism. Awards honoring bloggers means that the tide has started to turn, and the true talent in investigative journalism has turned to where they can connect with information more easily.
In 2013, blogs were rated the 5th most trusted online information source. And in 2015, for the first time, online search engines became the most trusted way to find news information, and traditional news outlets dropped to second place.
It’s obvious that people are staying informed, just in a different way than the past. So, of course, the question is: why?
And it seems pretty logical. As Bunch writes in his article, it’s an easy way to tackle a lot of information at once. Your audience become reporters; your job as the blogger is to compile and fact-check all the information, but you have interested commenters doing the heavy lifting. The Talking Points Memo Muckraking blog had their readers each take a page of a PDF, read it, and comment on the post with their observations and page number. A much faster and more efficient way to get through a 3,000 page document than trying to do it all by yourself in a newsroom, wouldn’t you say?
Information in the current day spreads faster than it ever has before and it is continuing to evolve. Bloggers fill in the niches that both traditional and even independent sources can’t always fill; they go to the smaller gaps, find specific content that they can pull apart and analyze. They find the holes in popular reporting and offer multiple points of view.
But the main reason I think blogs are so popular nowadays is because they’re interactive. They offer a platform to talk about something you’re interested in, even if you aren’t the prominent blogger. Whistleblowers are turning to the internet, to bloggers, to smaller, independent sources because they know that they’re passionate about these subjects and will do everything in their power to spread the word.
News is faster, but it also now offers ways to be more efficient and find out the truth. Fact-checking can take a Google search instead of multiple phone calls. You can find live sources at an event through Twitter. Finding experts is easier than ever. There is much more room for error in trying to push out content as fast as possible, but there’s also expansion on how we can find that truth that journalism strives for.