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Google sponsoring the future of digital news

I’m getting a bit tired of it. Too many journalists I know go all dismissive over digital media. Too many bloggers I know think that having 16 readers (and a horsehead) visiting their blog occasionally makes them directly eligible for the Pulitzer Prize. *sigh*

As the old adagio says: “Ignoti nulla cupido” – you cannot love what you do not know. I think the current journalist generation needs to understand digital media better. A growing number of people, including a whole upcoming generation, are consuming a big part of the news through digital channels. Insufficient knowledge on these channels, inadequate presence on these channels, and a defensive reaction to a new medium from the news-professionals would be catastrophic for the quality of the current and future news. Though I see a growing number of journalists toe-dipping in social media, most embrace it in a worrying way: mostly as an extra listening channel, or broadcasting opportunity. Most journalists are not trained into public dialogue and engagement possibilities. A lot of them also do not possess the necessary data processing- and analytical skills to process crowdsourcing in a safe way.

On the other hand, it worries me that a whole wide range of bloggers reached “God-Credibility” status amongst a broad audience. But most of these online writers do not use (or know) the journalistic deontological codes and practices.  Source controlling, second opinions, and balanced viewpoints are most often ripped out of the equation, leaving a very biased and unverified opinion piece.

The non-critical online consumer is –unfortunately- unable to distinguish quality content from doubtful or false information. It’s time to cross-train as well journalists and bloggers on each other’s skills and possibilities. I would love to see bloggers adhere more to a journalistic code of conduct and I think journalists should understand (and respect) the online environment more.

The future is going to be a net based information society. I was intrigued and positively surprised to see that search giant Google is spending a 2.7 million dollar grant to the International Press Institute to explore the future of digital news. This money comes on top of an earlier donation of 5 million dollar for investigating the new way of journalism.

Journalism is changing fast. And as news businesses experiment with new ways of creating and delivering journalism in the digital age, Google is keen to play its part. (-) We seek to find and fund breakthrough ideas that will have a lasting impact on the future of digital news in communities across Europe, the Middle East and Africa,” says Peter Barron, director of external relations for Google EMEA.

I just hope that the institutions, media corporations and schools that work with, or educate/form journalists will do a similar effort. Though I applaud Google’s initiative, I’d rather have a critical blogger/journalist generation investigating and taking up the role of the fourth power that is NOT Google funded…. 🙂

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