Mainstream media was supposed to be dying. Hordes of unpaid bloggers and YouTubers were supposed to start doing the job of recording, disseminating, and analysing current events faster, cheaper, more democratically, and with a more global reach. And yet the old guard is still clinging on and, in many cases, has even been assimilating the upstarts.
In many cases, “new media” ventures have been bought out: the Huffington Post was bought by AOL, NowPublic.com was snapped up by Clarity Digital Group, Slate was purchased by the Washington Post. Likewise, many “citizen journalists” have professionalised and started writing for established media, and traditional journalists now often keep their own blogs, or are at least active on social media.
There is also still a great deal of public respect for established media. In an EU-28 poll, 58% of respondents said they trusted what was reported on the radio, 43% trusted the written press, and only 36% said they trusted what appeared in online media. Less than a quarter (21%) said they trusted what they read or watched on social media. The medium really is the message.
Want to learn more about the relationship between citizen journalism and the mainstream media Europe? Check out our infographic below (click for a bigger version):
We often get people linking to YouTube clips to back up their arguments on Debating Europe. In response to this, we had a comment sent in from Paul arguing that he’s more likely to trust links to established news sites:
Personally I’m sceptical about the general media as well, but I have more confidence that someone on live TV making a statement to millions of viewing public is inclined to be more truthful than someone talking to a video camera for the benefit of a handful of bedroom warriors. Get caught out lying on national TV and you face the wrath of the nation, lying on youtube will get you a few flaming comments.
To get a response, we spoke to Eliot Higgins, a blogger, weapons analyst, and citizen journalist. On 15 July 2014, Higgins started a crowdfunded website called Bellingcat, “by and for citizen investigative journalists” and relying on open-source information such as videos, maps and pictures to analyse current events. How would he respond to Paul’s comment?
To get another reaction, we also put Paul’s comment to Nic Newman, a Research Associate at the Reuters Institute for the study of Journalism. What did he think mainstream media could learn from citizen journalism? And did he think mainstream media was inherently more trustworthy?
Just how big an impact is technology having on journalism? We asked Eliot Higgins how he thought digital technology in the 21st Century can help form opinions and mobilise people:
For another reaction, we put the same question to Maha, a popular YouTuber who teaches Arabic on her LearnArabicwithMaha channel. Did she think that the global reach of the internet can help change opinions and ideas about other parts of the world?
Finally, we had a comment sent in from Marcel, who thought the mainstream media did a bad job of covering certain topics, such as European affairs:
The media’s task is to report the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth at all times. Too often journalists allow friendly politicians influence over what they do and do not write. The EU itself is a case in point, the British media might sometimes be too negative, but the continental media is often way too friendly and fails to fully inform the public.
To get a response, we took this took this comment to David Levy, Director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. How would he respond to Marcel?
What can mainstream media learn from citizen journalists? Is mainstream media inherently more trustworthy? And what impact is new technology having on how we learn about the world? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!