Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 3:19am
JOURNALISM WITHOUT JOURNALISTS
[SOURCE: New Yorker, AUTHOR: Nicholas Lemann]
[Commentary] Internet journalism, according to those who produce manifestos on its behalf, represents a world-historical development -- not so much because of the expressive power of the new medium as because of its accessibility to producers and consumers. That permits it to break the long-standing choke hold on public information and discussion that the traditional media -- usually known, when this argument is made, as â€œgatekeepersâ€ -- have supposedly been able to maintain up to now. â€œMillions of Americans who were once in awe of the punditocracy now realize that anyone can do this stuff -- and that many unknowns can do it better than the lords of the profession,â€ writes Glenn Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor who operates one of the leading blogs, Instapundit. The rhetoric about Internet journalism produced by Reynolds and many others is plausible only because it conflates several distinct categories of material that are widely available online and didn't use to be: like pure opinion and information originally published in other media made instantly available through search engines. Journalism is not in a period of maximal self-confidence right now, and the Internetâ€™s cheerleaders are practically laboratory specimens of maximal self-confidence. They have got the rhetorical upper hand; traditional journalists answering their challenges often sound either clueless or cowed and apologetic. As of now, though, there is not much relation between claims for the possibilities inherent in journalist-free journalism and what the people engaged in that pursuit are actually producing. As journalism moves to the Internet, the main project ought to be moving reporters there, not stripping them away.
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