A Warning To Cyber Journalists

Originally published at IntellectualCapital.com
By K. Daniel Glover

The name Wayne McGuire will be etched in my memory for years to come. I suspect that if senility ever hits, I will sooner forget the names of my own children than that of the man who unintentionally soured my debut as the associate editor of IntellectualCapital.com.

I have only myself to blame, though. Wayne McGuire and I have never met, nor have we spoken. And while he may know the name Danny Glover from the actor of Lethal Weapon fame who shares my moniker, I doubt that he has heard of Danny Glover the cyber journalist. McGuire is an innocent party in this episode, which is more about my own ethical lapse than the Bostonian’s inflammatory Internet postings on Jews, Vince Foster and the Whitewater scandal.

I tell this story not to draw attention to his views but offer it as a warning to my journalistic colleagues about the pitfalls of this expansive new medium we call the World Wide Web. Here, in a nutshell, is my warning: Remember that the basic rules of news-gathering apply equally in media both new and old.

A lesson learned
I learned that lesson the hard way a couple of weeks ago. After nearly seven years as a reporter and editor at Congressional Quarterly, the last two-and-a-half in the realm of “new media,” I had accepted my new post at IntellectualCapital.com. The transition had been smooth, and I was excited about my first chance in months to write a feature-length article. My assignment: Compose an essay on the future of newspapers in the information age.



Newspapers In The Information Age

Originally published at IntellectualCapital.com
By K. Daniel Glover

Newspapers “should be allowed to die” because they “have led bloated, self-serving lives for so long that no one pays any attention.” That was the assessment of one participant in a discussion about the future of newspapers on the e-zine Hotwired.

Here’s another, from a woman who said she used to write for newspapers: “I rarely read them anymore. What’s the point? … [T]heir value in the digital age escapes me.”

Or what about this rant: “[T]he only parts of the big paper that I read anymore are the restaurant reviews and the movie listings; the national political news is hopelessly pre-digested and value-free, and twice more so for the local news.”

That is just a sampling of the anti-newspaper comments you can find on the Internet, the latest electronic medium to threaten the base of print journalism, and such critiques are evidence of a new trend in the Information Age. One-time loyal readers are abandoning their newspapers in droves, and young, would-be readers are flocking to the Web, the more familiar and high-tech information source of the ’90s. That should give any newspaperman pause.

Unfulfilled prophecies
But will the choice of so many readers to put down their newspapers turn the heads of any newspaper executives. Probably not. Doomsayers have predicted the demise of newspapers since the emergence of television as a mass medium, and their prophecies have not been fulfilled.

The late Marshall McLuhan — a mass communications theorist who coined phrases such as “global village” and “the medium is the message,” and who has been adopted as a hero of Internet groupies — spoke three decades ago of the death of print media, yet he died before the newspaper industry.