Fighting for the Truth

“The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information we know to be untrue.”

Can you believe the man who said that had never heard of Twitter? Those are the words of legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow, who died in 1965. He made his name in radio, broadcasting the London Blitz from a rooftop with the sound of bombs echoing through his microphone. In later years, he beamed into America’s living rooms through the advent of television. In the 20th Century, these technologies moved information at a speed previously unimagined.

Edward R. Murrow(Credit: The Bob Edwards Show)

Edward R. Murrow
(Credit: The Bob Edwards Show)

Today, media outlets are facing an enormous array of challenges in the age of the Internet. These challenges include remaining solvent and relevant at a time when news travels around the globe at the click of a mouse, and many customers don’t see the need to pay for it.

Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

But one of the biggest challenges remains the same one Murrow and his colleagues faced more than half a century ago: Figuring out the truth. Journalists who are committed to finding the truth serve as important a function in today’s society as they did when radios were the size of furniture and phones only made calls.

In February, the Collaborative Services blog spoke to several prominent people in the Fourth Estate to get their thoughts on journalism in the age of the Internet. They all agreed on this much: The rules of good journalism haven’t changed. The challenge for many of today’s media outlets – especially newspapers – is to establish viable business models that enable them to follow these rules of journalism while continuing to survive financially.

We want to thank the people who took the time to give us their thoughts on this topic:

Philip Meyer, author of The Vanishing Newspaper,

The Vanishing Newspaper 2nd edition

Angela Greiling Keane, president of the National Press Club;

United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan speaking at the National Press Club (Credit: US Department of Education)

United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan speaking at the National Press Club
(Credit: US Department of Education)

and Jonathan Thompson, media-relations manager for the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

The News History Gallery at the Newseum(Credit: Newseum)

The News History Gallery at the Newseum
(Credit: Newseum)

Like most other people in their profession, they are watching with a mixture of apprehension and fascination as the journalism landscape undergoes a seismic shift.

As Meyer noted, “I never try to criticize any bizarre new way of doing journalism. Why? Because no matter how crazy an innovation sounds, I cannot be certain that it will not work.”

New technology allows anyone to be a citizen journalistCredit: RW Connect

New technology allows anyone to be a citizen journalist
Credit: RW Connect

Now we shift our focus from “traditional” media to social and new media. These two platforms are changing the pace and function of news, reporting and information at large. Ordinary citizens are becoming journalists, whether they know it or not, and generating thousands of new ways to learn about the world. We’ve never been more connected to each other and our communities, and anyone can reach a broad audience from comfort of their living room. This presents exciting opportunities for harnessing enthusiasm and bringing ideas forward, but also challenges like distinguishing trustworthy sources and separating truth from propaganda.

Join us as we welcome Patch.com and others newly on the scene for their ideas about the news business, and the new ways we share information.

Catherine Smith, President
Collaborative Services, Inc.

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One thought on “Fighting for the Truth

  1. […] We’ve been excited to explore the art of storytelling through interviews with people as diverse as scientists, marketers and bargain hunting moms. We asked about the difference between green, clean, and plenty of other words when we focused on how word choice affects a message. We spoke with people who aren’t afraid to Think Big, looked into different points of view on getting voters to the polls, celebrated the holidays around the world, and learned about public participation from modern Utah to colonial Boston. Most recently, we watched the watchdog with our peek into the changing world of the 4th Estate. […]

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