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History of Mass Media

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Chris Dennis

History of mass media

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Back in early 1997, when my family first got the internet and the Internet had just barely gotten on its feet, groups of journalists gathered together to discuss an issue few had even begun to contemplate at the time. How do traditional journalistic values and ethics apply to "New Media"? The issue, now in 2010, would seem very simple. Many things in retrospect are. Media, whether it is new, old, or somewhere in between is still fundamentally the same. Values are values. Ethics are ethics. If you are suddenly a web journalist instead of a print or broadcast journalist, you are still "a journalist." You follow the same standards you always have. You're just conducting those standards through a new medium. But that new medium has made it harder to draw in the audience that print/broadcast journalism once had a strangle hold on.

But the question is not as straightforward or as simple as it first appears. And now in the year 2010 with the Internet dominating the new way to acquire information, the need to impose the discipline of strong journalistic standards is greater than ever. Journalists, at their core, will always be journalists, but the medium in which they toil does, indeed, make a difference in how they do their jobs. As different as the implementation of ethical standards can be for broadcast reporters and their print colleagues, the application of traditional journalistic ethics is an even more unique challenge for reporters on the Internet.

For those working at newspapers or magazines, and in radio or TV, there are some well-established rules to follow when making ethical decisions. There are traditional approaches to addressing questions of accuracy in print journalism.

There are now guideposts and traditions to internet journalism but businesses, such as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, are having trouble figuring out a successful balance between print and internet. The medium makes the mess when it comes to ethical dilemmas on the web. Obvious print rules like separating advertising from editorial don't just fall into place on the Internet, where news and advertising content can look almost indistinguishable. Clearly correcting mistakes may be a duty-bound tradition in established media, but do you really need to point out errors online when you can simply wipe them out and set the record straight by publishing a new version of a story any moment you want to? Journalists If you simply publish everything you can get your hands on in your bottomless online news hole, does that take care of the fairness issue?

If journalistic organizations were to become serious players online, then the journalistic core values they held dear were going to have to move onto the web with them. To allow values to slip online such



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