With all the fanfare for social media, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc. and the never-ending reports of the death of newspapers, TV, and radio, the story today in the Los Angeles Times that a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism has found that the most original news reporting still comes from the “old” media–newspapers, TV, and radio isn’t really shocking.
Here’s why. When blogging was in its infancy, bloggers would do exactly what I’m doing now. They would read a story in the newspaper, or see it on TV, or even here it on the morning news show on their local radio station, and then write an opinion about it on their blog.
Now, as blogs and other social media tools have grown over time, they have matured and are competing for the right to publish and promote original news. But the complete dominance of news market share by blogs and social media is still a long way off, if it ever comes. Until then, the more traditional media outlets should feel somewhat safe in knowing that if the majority of people want to know what is going on, they’ll turn to the newspaper, the TV, or the radio.
However, what is more troubling about the LA Times story is what you read after you get past the headline. At the end of the story is a quote from the study that says due to the shrinking newsrooms of the traditional media, they are republishing more news releases. Dig deeper and you’ll see that the study has found as a result, the government is initiating more and more of the news.
If a newspaper doesn’t have enough staff to create original news stories and instead republishes other people’s work, then they’re just publishing unexamined messaging. Primarily, the study found, that messaging is from the government. It’s almost like we’re living in a country with a state-run media. Almost.