Clay Shirky Lecture

October 5, 2009

          The story that Clay Shirky shared about the reporting that was done in the investigation of Father John Geoghan was a good jumping off point to discussing the importance of accountability reporting and the consequences of its dissapearence in newspapers. He links the newspapers’ lack of ability to produce this type of reporting to the decline of newspapers being used for commercial purposes. Before sites like CraigsList.com were created, newspapers held a monoply in advertising. At this time, newspapers were the best and one of the only sources for companies to display ads and coupons. The power that these newspapers held over these companies forced them to overpay for their advertisments which, in turn financially allowed newspaper reporters to spend long amounts of time investigating major stories.

           Before reading this lecture, I had not made the connection between the amount of money newspapers were making in advertising and their capability of conducting in-depth reporting. The rise of the Web has made the need to use newspapers as a source for advertising non-existent and the prices that the companies were paying to place an ad in a paper are not comparible to the inexpensive advertising that the internet offers. What really hit home with me was that as Shirky points out, this change is irreversable. Newspapers will never again have the protection that their power over advertisers provided and will never again have the capital to support the reporting of high risk stories that require long term investigations. While advertising on the Internet is useful and easy for both the companies advertising and the consumers, it is blindingly clear that as a result, the quality of the news we recieve is suffering.

          Another issue that Shirky discusses is what I consider to be a problem that has been caused by the “daily me”. In other words, the Internet has become a place that caters to its user. It allows one to search through and pick only the stories, games, blogs, etc. that interest them. This may seem like a positive but it is in fact a negative because the user will never be given anything outside of what they “want”. Journalism and news reporting is important in the way that it explains and shows us things we may not want to see or hear but need to. The Web has slowed the circulation of information that  is needed. In this, I see danger in a society that is uninformed and uninterested in what surrounds them. This danger both scares me and personally affects me. My generation is the future of America and we have been raised to use the Internet as our source of news with trends of citizen journalism. While the newspaper has not completely dissapeared, it is not commonly used by myself or my peers and the quality of information that it provides is not appreciated. I am positive that the lack of appreciation for in-depth reporting and well thought out and written articles will have negative affects on my future and the futures of those within my generation.

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