THE IMPACT OF THE INTERNET ON JOURNALISM, III
LA REVUE ELECTRONIQUE DE COMMUNICATION
Volume 7 Number 4 1997
The concluding section of this special issue of the Electronic Journal of Communication examining the impact of the Internet on journalism takes a reflective turn. Not only has the Internet changed journalism, it has forced people to rethink different aspects of journalism, journalism practices, journalism education and the way journalists have framed the discussions about this new medium. In this section, Eric Easton has taken an in-depth look at the way journalists used the Internet to evade a publication ban in Canada and reflects on the impact that the Internet might have on journalism ethics. Alissa Sklar has closely examined the way that Canadian newspapers have covered the advent of the information superhighway. She argues that to a large degree the Canadian press was captured by the "cult of technological progress" and presented a relatively uncritical view of the Internet. It should little concern for those marginalized by technology or the Internet's potential impact on Canadian culture.
Finally, the academic world has quickly taken note of, and to a large degree, embraced the Internet. William Leonhirth, David T.Z. Mindich and Andris Straumanis reflect on how Internet technology may change the interactions of the community of scholars concerned with the history of journalism. And David Abrahamson lays out how one leading journalism school has incorporated the new skills required by the Internet into its curriculum.
In the final analysis, the Internet promises to have a larger impact on journalism than any of the changes in information and communication technology that have preceded it. As the articles in this special issue of the Electronic Journal of Communication demonstrate, the Internet has emerged as a viable publishing medium; it offers journalists a new set of reporting skill; it has an impact on readers and the information to which they have access; and it has changed the way people think about issues related to journalism. In short, it is not too much to conclude that the Internet has changed, and will continue to change, almost every aspect of journalism.
Eric B. Easton
Abstract. This paper tracks the reaction to a publication ban imposed by a Canadian court in a sensational serial murder case, focusing on the use of computer-mediated communications to defy the court order. The "cybercasters" who engaged in that defiance also violated many of the ethical conventions of contemporary journalism. Accuracy, objectivity, taste, and accountability were among the principles that seemed to be missing or at least distorted. This paper examines these values as manifested in the new medium's "coverage" of this grisly story and considers the implications for journalism ethics generally. It concludes that (1) the evolving ethics of the new medium derive naturally from its technology; (2) these "online" ethics legitimately descend from American although not Canadian free press traditions; and (3) the existence of this new medium with its participatory, libertarian ethic provides a healthy counterpoint to the paternalism and defensiveness of mainstream journalism.
Abstract. This paper is a deconstruction of Canadian popular press coverage of the Information Highway in 1994. Key discourses were isolated and analyzed in 63 articles, editorial, columns and features from mainstream newspapers. Discussion centers around the manner in which the press frames our perceptions of new technologies, defining the frames throuch which we understand them. This is understood as particularly critical as new cultural and legislative pathways are forged for our use of social systems such as the Internet. Various rhetorical and critical analytic methodologies were used in an effort to unpack central metaphors and narratives with which new information technologies have been introduced to the North American public. This paper traces the significance of both voices and silences existent in the first stages of general debate.
William J. Leonhirth
David T. Z. Mindich
Abstract: This paper examines a discussion group over the Internet for journalism and mass communication historians called "Jhistory" and tries to understand its structure by viewing past media systems. How does one describe Internet mailing lists and what metaphors can be used to explain this new and singular media system?
Abstract: As journalists struggle to define exactly how electronic mediums such as the Internet can assist in the research, production and packaging of news and information, so too do journalism schools struggle to incorporate the Internet into traditional courses in reporting, writing and editing. Moreover, collegiate and graduate journalism programs have a responsibility to equip the nation's next-generation journalists with all the tools of the trade, which inevitably includes on-line tools that have become so pervasive in today's news rooms and at magazines. At Northwestern University, the Medill School of Journalism is successfully incorporating the World Wide Web into its graduate magazine sequence. By weaving electronic publishing into its Magazine Publishing Project, Medill arms graduate students with a marketable knowledge of that curious tool called the Internet, a necessary complement to the fundamental skills of fine journalists. It is a combined knowledge that helps secure jobs in the short term, and benefits the journalism profession for years to come.
Communication Institute for Online Scholarship, Inc.