The rise of new media and citizen journalism has emboldened some to talk about the demise of the traditional press as we know it.
A New York Times article however should give us pause and provoke deeper thought about the direction media is taking this very moment. It reports that a number of newspapers are folding up their print editions (like the Christian Science Monitor) while others are firing manpower.
The surprise for those who discredit mainstream media in their entirety is delivered no less by a guru of the digital age who worries that we would lose more if and when the press as we know it goes kaput.
I always agree that the global and local media today are infected with so many maladies, not just by corruption but of crass commercialism by their elite owners. Some are guilty of unethical conduct, while others deny the media’s progressive role in a democracy. Given these, should we throw out the entire media, along with the good journalists and the nucleus of a progressive media of the future? No.
In the meantime, it is good that new media has risen to the challenges of the new world disorder, helping the people be more informed in break-neck speed and asking the people themselves to be the media. But new media is also being slowly subverted by the same practices that afflict their older counterparts. Some hide beneath modern platforms but spread the most backward and archaic ideas. But new media is generally unpolished and in many respects are devoid of rules that ensure fairness and accuracy. A number have even gone to the extent of claiming that no rules apply to new media — which is sad and pathetic.
For me, new media is old media’s vehicle to reaching a better tomorrow. Both must interact and cooperate, and eventually merge, combining the best of both old and new. And to make sure media in general remain relevant, old and new journalists must respond to the clarion call to serve the people, to comfort the afflicted/afflict the comfortable, and to make media an instrument for positive change.
And so let the non-debate between traditional and new media finally end and let us challenge both to answer the question: For whom do we write for? To whom do we make our reports?