Course Content
Chapter 3: Writing Mechanics Help
Chapter 12: Teaching Writing
Chapter 23: Teaching Reading
College English Composition: Help and Review
About Lesson

What is Journalism?

For centuries now, people have depended on journalism for news and entertainment. For many of us, we begin our day by opening a newspaper, magazine, or logging online to our favorite web pages. We read the latest news stories, skim through the opinion pieces, share articles with each other, and offer our own opinion. Journalism, the profession of writing for newspapers, has become a part of our culture.

As early as the 18th century, journalism played a role in America. In its earlier stages, journalists were able to control politicians and elections through their articles and opinions. As technology advanced in the 19th century and more newspapers were produced, this control turned to sensationalism. The more sensational and gruesome a crime or controversy, the more newspapers would sell. No longer just dependent on national newspapers, states and cities began to also produce their own.

Newspapers were now cheaper to produce and sold much faster. Just like today, people of the late 19th and early 20th century, loved a good story. However, as the 20th century began to come to a close, there was a change to journalism- the Internet. With the development of the Internet, people no longer depended on newspapers alone for the news. It was much easier and quicker to access news online. As newspaper sales declined and some papers closed permanently, many journalists were forced to make a transition to online journalism.

How is online journalism different than print journalism? What is the role of contemporary journalism in today’s society? In this lesson, we will answer these two questions.

Online Journalism

While it may be hard for us to imagine, there was a time that 24-hour news did not exist. People depended on the morning newspaper for the current news stories. As television became more accessible, it was faster for news programs to update but it was not yet as quick as the world we now know.

By the late 90s, Internet was becoming more common. As part of this, many newspapers began to offer an online version of their publication. However, the online version was not unique or any different than the print version, they simply put the articles on their web pages. As the Internet grew in popularity, some news organizations like AOL or Yahoo, began to develop their own web pages just for news. They changed the layout, created links, added a comment section, and developed articles just for online publication.

By the 2000s, newspaper sales declined and online journalism became the popular way to read the news. Advertisers began to use the online publications more, which helped in their growth. Not just that, but people like the news online. Not only was it faster to access and updated by the minute, but they were also able to talk to each other, share their opinion, and now even share their articles faster. There could be a whole message board devoted just to one article. With the support of the readers and the advertisers, many newspapers can now survive just online.

Contemporary Journalism’s Role

Even with the shift to online journalism, the role of journalism has stayed the same. Journalists gather and report the news. However, the Internet has changed what we, the audience, may expect from journalists. With online journalism, an almost friendship-like relationship can develop between the audience and the writer. We are able to chat with the writer, ask questions, and leave comments. This friendship often leads to a higher level of expectation.

We are now able to fact check the writer through our own research, show opposing view points, and even research how credible the journalist may be. Because of this, contemporary journalists have to be sure that all facts are presented in their writing. They also have to anticipate that someone may question their credentials or research and be prepared to defend both.

One of the largest changes in contemporary journalism’s role is the idea that anyone can report the news. If you were to do an Internet search right now for one of the most recent news stories, chances are you will see more than just news organizations reporting the story. You will also see blogs and social networks replying to it.

Have you ever clicked on a ‘trending now’ link? You will be able to see what other people are commenting about a story. While we may enjoy reading someone opinion, it is important to remember that these are just that- opinions. The Internet has created the challenge of separating researched articles from social media ones.

Lesson Summary

Journalism, the profession of writing for newspapers, has been apart of our culture for centuries. From the beginning of the United States, newspapers have played a role in society. At first, they controlled elections with their opinions, but they soon changed to reporting sensational stories. As the cost of published newspapers declined, the popularity of them increased.

However, at the end of the 20th century journalism began to change because of the Internet. Now people were able to receive their news much faster, comment on articles, chat with others, and share their opinions much quicker.

With the rise of popularity in online journalism, many news organizations began to offer an online version and some created web pages just for online news. Print newspaper sales began to decline, it was becoming more obvious that people liked having 24-hour access to news. Through this change, the role of journalists has stayed the same- they gather and report the news. However, their relationship with the audience has changed. Their audience is now able to talk directly to the writer. They can ask questions, check facts, and even research the journalist.

In addition, social blogs and networking has become apart of journalism. We have to be sure that we are reading credible articles, not just someone’s opinion. While our morning routine of opening a newspaper may have changed to opening a laptop, we still depend on journalists for our news and entertainment. Journalism is still a part of, and plays a large role, in our contemporary society.

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