On Bruns, Chuck and Journalism

September 25, 2009 · Posted in Uncategorized 

Chuck did a fabulous job analyzing Bruns’s work on alternative online news.   He accurately points out Bruns’s “false assumptions” about journalism and he shows the inadequacies of sites like indymedia.  While Brun suggests the alternative online news sites “fill the gaps left by professional journalism,” Chuck convincingly shows Bruns has not made his case…at least not with the websites Bruns highlights in our course reading.  No need for me to go over the ground Chuck covered so well.

CHANGE IS COMING

For the most part alternative online news consists of aggregators of other people’s hard work (true journalism where you go out and talk with newsmakers and gather facts) and opinion slingers.  There is value in that but it’s not journalism, it’s merely gathering other people’s work and commentary.

This could change and there is some evidence a truly journalistic online-only alternative to traditional media is developing.   Here in Connecticut, several people laid off from the state’s largest newspaper, The Hartford Courant, have formed the Connecticut News Project.

Here’s how the operation describes itself in its ad for a chief administrator:

The Connecticut News Project, Inc. CNP was established in July 2009 to develop an on-line news service to address the growing void in coverage of Connecticut’s government.  CNP’s Board has hired an award-winning editor to oversee all aspects of the news operation and to recruit a staff of experienced, professional journalists.  Together, they will help restore high-quality, in-depth news reporting about issues affecting the state; the actions of Connecticut’s Governor and other constitutional officers, legislature, courts, and the state agencies; and the performance of those entrusted by Connecticut’s voters to serve the public interest.

And here’s the list of people on the nonprofit organization’s board of directors:

The Board of Directors currently has five members: Marcia Chambers, MA, MSL (Research Scholar in Law and Journalist in Residence at Yale Law School); William Cibes, Jr., PhD (Chancellor Emeritus of the Connecticut State University System); Jeannette DeJesus, MSW, MPA (Executive Director, Hispanic Health Council); Shelley Geballe, JD, MPH (Distinguished Senior Fellow of CT Voices for Children, Lecturer at Yale Law School and School of Public Health); Robert Hohler (Executive Director of the Melville Charitable Trust).

Or, check out the New Haven Independent.  Here’s what they say about themselves:

New Haven Independent.org is produced in conjunction with the Online Journalism Project, a not-for-profit effort to promote professional-quality “stand-alone” and “hyperlocal” news sites on the Internet. Our main financial sponsors are listed on the right-hand column of the homepage and most inside pages. This site relies on three sources of revenue: grants from foundations to support specific areas of reporting, such as health care, similar to the way that National Public Radio obtains charitable grants to support independent reporting; general ongoing sponsorship grants from institutions; and donations from readers. The reporting on this site is, as the name says, “independent.” All financial contributions to the site come with the understanding that contributors will not determine (or have any responsibility for) the articles produced on the site. (Feel free to contact us with further questions about the site’s financial support.)

NOT EVERYTHING WRITTEN AND PUBLISHED IS JOURNALISM

These sites, and other experiments around the country, hold out the promise of a true online journalism alternative that really might cover the big picture and fill in the gaps.  It’s crucial to note that these models are populated with professional journalists who have been laid off, for the most part, from traditional media operations.  There is a difference between a true professional journalist and someone just writing a blog.  Accuracy and accountability mean something.

Blogging has given everyone a printing press.  That’s great, it really is.  But journalism–true journalism–is about gathering facts from disparate voices and presenting the best version of the truth obtainable at that moment.  Bruns seems to join the chorus of folks who think journalists are arrogant when they get on their high horse about the sacredness of their profession.  There is some validity to the criticism, but journalism is, indeed, a sacred endeavor.

Journalism is written and published, but not all things written and published are journalism.

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One Response to “On Bruns, Chuck and Journalism”

  1. [...] be one. A well-crafted blog can be highly entertaining or even be newsworthy, but to borrow from Old TV News Guy, just because you write a blog, that doesn’t make you a journalist. Writing blogs and being a [...]

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