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The Media in 2025 (simply a prediction)

April 15, 2010

In the Inside Reporting chapter on online reporting, Harrower includes a spread titled “Encouraging user participation.” With the increase of user generated websites, including YouTube and Twitter, the idea of citizen journalism appears to be appealing to the public as well as the news industry. Even established news organizations like CNN invite readers to submit videos and news briefs. I predict that by 2025 the division between reporter and consumer will blur significantly.

While I still believe that the media will regulate the news, continuing to function as a gatekeeper of information, the gate will resemble a picket fence more than an iron wall. Although we see an increase in user generated content, news content from consumers typically contains more local news, while the professionals still act as a bridge between the government, both domestic and abroad, and the public. Therefore, I think that educated and passionate citizens will produce local news, while respectable news organizations will maintain the responsibility of providing the public with national and world news.

Still, those news stories will still be subject to public opinion. Blogs as well as comment sections provide consumers and reporters with a forum for discussion. I do not think that print will not disappear completely because it will serve a different function. I think the online journalism is moving more towards a two-way conversation compared to the original reader-writer relationship. Although print will exist, print does not enable readers to comment back. Therefore, print will be used more for information and the Internet will be used as discussion.

Earlier in the book, Harrower said that one of the most difficult aspects of being a journalist is that a reporter is expected to become an expert on a new topic every day. Mike Wendland, a technology reporter, said he believes user participation alleviates this challenge.

“I am astounded daily by what I learn in the blogging community. As a journalist, I have always suspected that many of my readers know more than I do…Hardly a day goes by when readers don’t tell me something, I don’t know or I don’t find a new angle to a story.” –Mike Wendland.

If this is the case, then what separates journalists from the general public? Is it the ability to tell the story more clearly or is it simply access to sources and equipment that enable reporters to package a story?

I predict that the responsibility of reporters will be to raise awareness about key issues, and then let the public carry the conversation.

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