(Illustration/Tribune News Service)
(Illustration/Tribune News Service)

In recent years, journalism has become increasingly dependent on technology. Before journalists were able to have their message so widely distributed with the click of a button, they had to stand in the town square and shout the news in the hopes that people might pay attention.

Now with the internet serving as the primary news source and bloggers passing themselves off as journalists, the public doesn’t know who and what information is trustworthy.

The ethics of journalism have become hazier as more printed newspapers vanish and news websites step in to take their place.

Surviving newspapers are continuing the old standard of getting it right or not printing it at all. Their approach will soon become outdated.

The luxury journalists once had to sit on a story until they could verify its accuracy is no longer afforded to them. Instead, journalists have to rush their articles out so that they can be released first.

They are willing to risk their reputation and assume responsibility for the information they’re reporting, regardless of its validity, to protect their sources.

Internet audiences crave new content. If they can’t find it in one place, they will go from website to website until they do. As a result, websites stop at nothing to retain every visitor. The results of this approach could be disastrous.

Supposed news outlets cannot rely solely on their content. Their revenue models are complex and often depend on page views.

Stories that may have been eliminated in the past are no longer overlooked because of their potential to become popular. The pressure to maximize traffic has created an atmosphere where websites have relaxed quality standards.

In a perfect world, journalists write stories without bias and leave themselves out of their content. As time goes on we are discovering that this ideal is nothing more than a virtual impossibility. From time to time, journalists’ identities begin to seep into their words, turning them into editorializing machines, instead of producers of factual articles.

Stories that journalists wrote were once more important than journalists themselves. Now, many journalists appear in the news for reasons that have nothing to do with writing.

Journalists need to report the stories, not become them. The outlets for which they work need to reinforce these standards in order for them to become commonplace again.

Search engines excel at indexing pertinent news stories. Unfortunately, they have a tendency to put questionable news outlets on the same level as the industry’s standard bearers.

To combat this problem, search engines have altered their protocols to improve the quality of their results. Despite their efforts, these databases remain far from perfect.

Before journalism can return to its former glory, journalists need to reclaim their own dignity. They must campaign for the right to be able to reject assignments that might compromise their integrity.

A single story can destroy a journalist’s career. Journalists should be able to reject ideas they don’t feel comfortable writing about.

Corporations with a high level of name recognition became successful because they nurtured their brand. For a journalist, their brand is their name.

The internet audience needs to demand more from their content creators. Irregularities that people are reluctant to address will likely never get remedied. Lines of communication between journalists and their audiences must remain open. Feedback should be encouraged and taken into consideration if it is valid.

In the event that journalists falter, new voices must be able to step in. Introducing fresh perspectives is essential for any website that regularly releases content. Websites that stick with the same people for too long will find themselves obsolete. Changes need to be made before the audience decides that it’s time to move on.

Above all else, a journalist needs to stand behind their work and be happy with it. Their level of enjoyment for what they do is important. Journalists can’t possibly expect readers to enjoy what they’re reading if they don’t enjoy and take pride in writing it.

Creative people need to devote themselves to their creations if they want them to flourish. Otherwise, there is no point in trying to show them to the masses. Integrity, above all else, needs to return to journalism.

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