Media United Kingdom

How to solve Mainstream Journalism’s Problem

Poor BBC News! Yet again, it found itself in trouble and apologising to everyone for everything. Clearly showing her 90 plus years, Aunty Beeb just doesn’t understand the Internet. You have to feel sorry for the old broadcaster, but just to a limited extent. Like the Middle Aged ITV and all other mainstream news broadcasters and newspapers around the world, BBC News has played the Internet with a cocksure belief that the old-timers still make-up the rules.

 

For too long, broadcasters have pillaged the Net as a free news source on the one hand whilst on the other, mocking the Internet as a plaything for the socially inept and ill-informed would-be journalists, or condemning it as a cancer-inducing playground for paedophiles and cyber-bullies. They have got away with it for so long for one reason: Like the BBC, most people don’t understand the power of the Internet, either.

 

In the early days of the Internet, the web was king. As such, the Internet was a way of accessing information. We would log onto a company’s static website to find its opening hours and a phone number you could ring in order to speak to someone.  The king was usurped by social media and e-commerce. The Internet has become a giant billboard where everyone is saying: ‘Look at me. Buy my stuff.’ Everyone is talking, few are actually listening, and even less are saying anything worthwhile, but the information is there. Almost the entire accumulation of human knowledge is on the Internet; you just have to take the time to go looking for it – and that’s the problem for the BBC and for the rest of us.

 

As with the shameful episode over the photo that wasn’t of the Syrian massacre, BBC News has once again shown it is too quick to jump on the bandwagon of social media speculation. It demonstrates a fear that all broadcasters have. People can find details on the Internet more quickly than they can on TV. Broadcasters, like everyone else, want a share of the cyberspace and shout ‘Look at me!’ They think it’s the only thing that will secure their industry against the phenomenon that has killed off the music industry and newspapers, and is currently making the High Street quake in its Boots The Chemist and cower with its backs to the Walmart.

 

But it’s wrong. The Internet can be the saviour of the news broadcaster. It just has to know how to use it – and to treat it fairly. As an active citizen journalist and a lecturer in the citizen journalism, I present my…

 

Six Steps to the Successful Future of News Reporting

 

The future has to be a partnership between mainstream and Internet news media with an aim to full integration. This means established broadcasters like the BBC, have to stop regarding the Internet as a free news source one minute and something to ridicule and condemn when it suits.

 

Pay its citizen journalists and encourage them to think and behave as the viable news source; one that the world has never seen previously.

 

Writer and journalist unions should accept bloggers and citizen journalists as bona fide journalists who have proven themselves.

 

Educational institutions need to train students in on-line research; actual courses and modules that develop skilful and reliable research techniques, so progressing beyond the facile ‘Google it’ mentality. It may also halt the growing use of the Internet as a method of self-promoting advertising and more of what the Internet could be.

 

The Government, Royal Family and others need to stop pretending the Internet doesn’t exist, but learn to work with it. It will stop such fiascos as Prince Charles trying to ban news of his alleged bi-sexuality and the mismanaged attempt to control distribution of Kate Middleton topless pics, which has become a legal farce directly as a result of not understanding the workings of the Internet.

 

Finally, and most important, the people need to see the power they wield and the responsibility that goes with it: to inform and be informed; using the internet to get their valuable news out there, so be the phenomenal source of information and truth. Because that’s what the Government, Royal Family, the Police, the BBC and other Establishment Institutions really want – isn’t it?

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