Media Issues Final Exam

Media Issues

Final Exam

Robert McChesney

In the media industry things have changed rapidly over the last decade. News outlets have been forced to create and update Web sites and mobile sites and do twice as much work. All this has to be done with smaller staffs and less resources due to budget cuts.

The digital age has revolutionized journalism, changing it from watchdog and investigative to breaking and right now. News Web sites are filled with breaking news and crime stories and we see less and less investigative and feature stories. Crime stories are popular online so news editors are running with it, choosing page views over quality journalism. This is a concern.

A news story used to require multiple sources and accurate quotes in order to be published, but now stories are posted online with little accuracy and confirmation. Rumors are posted as news with the thought process of is that it can be updated later when more information is available. This is the new form of journalism. News Websites are forcing reporters and editors to run with stories online that normally would never run in print. But, if they don’t post the two sentences they have on a local shooting, then the competing TV station will or another newspaper.

The media industry is becoming extremely competitive for news. Who wants it more and who is going to get it up online first is going to win the battle. It is no longer about who is doing the greatest public service. Sure, some investigative pieces still exist and we still see some feature stories, but the majority of news today is breaking and crime news. Sex crimes, murder, drugs, robberies and shootings dominate news Website headlines. We need to worry about this.

If the news media continues to make these kinds of stories prominent then where can we learn about local government and issues that really matter? We are so caught up in what’s happening now that we are losing site of the facts, which used to carry news stories.

Another issue is that of citizen journalism. Sure, the concept seems like a good idea, but what will happen if we continue to give the power of reporting to bloggers and citizens who can’t be objective and whole higher journalist standards? We are walking down a fine line with this new form of journalism and if it continues we will see the end of traditional journalism.

Daniel Solove

As the Internet continues to grow in popularity and usage, online social issues will become a major problem. Today, online reputations are tarnished and ruined every day because anonymity dominates the Web. This trend will only continue unless guidelines and rules are put in place to prevent online gossip and rumors.

There is an information overload on the Web, which also creats an overwhelming number of times in which a person is publically punished online. Celebrities are plastered across tabloid Websites and even new sites. Athletes and public figured are ridiculed for personal life decisions and shortcomings. Their business is aired all over the Internet and they can’t even leave a voicemail or send a text message without it winding up some Website. They can’t walk to the grocery store without having an unflattering picture of them posted all over the Web.

We see a lot of celebrities being ripped apart on Websites, but it isn’t just public figures and celebrities, it is regular people too. If something negative is written about you online, it is out there forever. It is also likely that it will show up high on a search results page. This is ruining reputations and making it difficult for individuals to shake a minor mistake in life or even get rid of something false that someone wrote about them.

The way the Internet is set up now, something that someone did five years ago, could still show up towards the top of a search results page for that person’s name three years from now. In the mean time, that person could have done great things in their industry and community, but their reputation would still be tarnished because of that mistake that still exists online.

For these minor negative things to show up on top of a search results page is ridiculous. As a result, it is preventing some people from getting jobs and ruining their reputation. Search engines are determining that they are the most important thing we need to know about these people, but it isn’t always true. In the future, search needs to adapt. We should see the most important things and most relevant in terms of date.

By showing something old that happened to a person years ago is most often irrelevant, but it is tarnishing people’s online reputations. Sometimes it is funny, but unusual how things get spread online. More serious offenses can be buried while false accusations of bitter old friends can wind up at the top of the list. We should be worried down the road that everyone could have bad reputations online, especially if anonymity continues to dominate because people are much more likely to post negative things anonymously.

Jonathan Zittrain

In the future we should be worried about Internet law and technology that will track our every move online and be able to access all of our information and personal items. Net neutrality will continue to be a concern down the road as more and more people gain Internet access and use more bandwidth. There needs to be a way to control how much bandwidth one can use and we already seeing Internet service providers try this. In the future we should worry about users trying to cheat this system and find ways around net neutrality protocols.

Tiered pricing systems seems to be the trend for net neutrality, but how much is something willing to pay for a ton of bandwidth? We don’t know. And how much are ISPs willing to charge? This is definitely a concern and something to keep and eye on as net neutrality as an issue continues to surface.

People are more behaved when they are accountable for themselves, which is what exists on the Internet today. But, in the future the courts could catch up and create more laws and regulations for Internet use and access, which could cause an uproar and create more headaches then resolution. The law is way behind on the Internet and people have become accustomed to limited regulation. If that is to change drastically in the future, which I believe is likely, then the consequences could be severe.

Another issue is online privacy and seeing that software has already been developed that can capture a user’s data, this is something we should be concerned about. In the future all the information and documents we store online or in our e-mail could be accessible to others even though we want it to be private information.

Privacy and net neutrality are two important issues that we will be dealing with as the Internet evolves and the law catches up. As frequent users of the Internet, we need to show interest and concern as these issues continue to develop and play out.

Ken Auletta

I think that we should be concerned that big technology companies will control everything we are allowed to do online. Take a company like Google, which now has almost every tech product on the market and online. They are creating and buying almost every platform, trying to offer users every service they would ever need. What if this works? There could be a monopoly on technology.

Google has Gmail, Google Maps, Buzz, Google Chrome, Google Docs and many more products. They have e-mail, mapping, online data storage and Web browsing covered. They even have a mobile phone.

I don’t by any means disagree with Google’s business plan, in fact I admire their will to stray from traditional commercial business practices. I have been impressed by the success of their business model, which has been the exact opposite model that every expert in the field has advised them to do.

With that said, I do see where there could be concern if their dominance of the Web continues. Many consumers, but more business competitors, see them as evil. They probably just envy their success, but many do fear the day when Google runs the Internet.

Google is so smart and top of the industry that we could see a day when Google or a company like them knows more than the consumer and even the government. Some might argue that this is already true. They have been so successful with their products, but who is to say they don’t have a whole line of inventions just waiting behind closed doors.

I don’t think we need to fear Google, but we might fear advertising taking over the Internet. Right now, advertising online is pretty limited when you think about TV commercials and newspaper print advertisements. Online advertising is growing though and soon it will be in more places then we can imagine, on your phone, iPod, iPad, Kindle, everywhere.

The advertising industry is making advances. Now, they can target advertising to Websites you have visited. So, if you are a Boston Red Sox fan and visit their Website then you will see ads related to the Boston market, the Boston Red Sox and other sports products. It seems convenient, but it can be annoying and overwhelming. It also could be considered intrusive depending on what kind of content you are viewing online.

Technology is always enhancing and it will be interesting to see what kind of products big companies like Google come up with.

Critique #1 of McChesney

I would argue with McChesney that online journalism is a positive change to the news industry. Now that Website reporters and editors are posting information online immediately, the public is better informed on what is going in the world and in their communities. It used to be that one would have to wait until the next day’s newspaper or the 6 o’clock news to find out what happened earlier in the day, but now they can log online and get it immediately.

News organizations are still objective and they still report, but I think now they listen to the community a little more often, which is a good thing. A newspaper or TV station can’t have eyes everywhere, but by using the community as almost freelance workers or even just for news tips and photos, it can improve a news organization’s overall coverage. For instance, if there is a big car accident, chances are a reporter wasn’t there when it happened, but if someone on the scene calls it in to a news station, then they can use their eyewitness account, perhaps a photo and some video taken on a mobile phone. Now, the story is being told immediately and from someone who was actually there. I see this as a great improvement in journalism because we are getting more information quicker.

News editors will still use their own judgment on which stories to post and run with, but now information is more open. A lot more is published and it is published faster because that is what the users and readers demand. The public wants information fast and in an easy format, so news organizations are now delivering on those demands. E-mail and text alerts and mobile applications are becoming popular and are a great tool for news organizations to reach their audience immediately.

News organizations will still do investigative and lighter news pieces, but they aren’t as needed today. What the public needs is information at their fingertips and they are getting that. The investigative pieces will come, but the cost effectiveness of having one reporter working on the same story for a month, just isn’t there. That reporter is needed to churn out dozens of stories, videos and photos during that same time frame. The public is getting more bang for their buck with online journalism.

Critique #2 of Solove

I think that Solove brings up an interesting point about online reputations because with the Internet, things stay on the World Wide Web forever and are often made higher profile than what they actually are. A local businessman arrested for driving under the influence is a crime, but it’s a common mistake among adults. Once the man pays his fine and completes his community service or whatever the punishment, he should be allowed to return to his normal life, but with the Internet, his name is likely showing up towards the top of search results pages because his arrest is in the public record. It was likely posted somewhere on news Websites and other places online, so when you search his name, instead of seeing his career accomplishments, you see that he was arrested for DUI five years ago. That isn’t right.

There needs to be come sort of regulation for search engine results especially because false information about an individual can remain online forever. If someone writes a blog post about you because you don’t get along with them, the false and bad things they sad about you are on the Internet forever. Their blog post might be coming up in search result pages under your name, which isn’t right, especially when it’s not true.

People shouldn’t be able to ruin someone’s reputation online. There needs to be more search engine regulation and Internet regulation in general. The law is way behind technology and this is hurting some individuals and their reputations.


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