Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Book Stall Review: SuperMedia

Saving Journalism So It Can Save the World
by Charlie Beckett
Wiley-Blackwell, 2008

Journalism is in serious trouble. Just 30 year ago, television broadcasts were the primary news source for the majority of Americans, just as radio and newspapers dominated in prior generations. Today, audiences for all three media are fading fast as more and more of us turn to a plethora of online sources for news and information.

How is the journalism profession adjusting to this new reality? In the same sense that anyone can be an actor, with or without schooling, thousands of "citizen journalists" or amateurs have joined the ranks of the professionally trained and some of them have astonishingly large audiences.

"Welcome to the era of SuperMedia and the hero of the age, the Networked Journalist," writes Charlie Beckett in this thoughtful analysis of change in progress. "Networked journalists are open, interactive, and share the process. Instead of gatekeepers, they are facilitators: the public become co-producers."

But in order for journalism to be sustained and be able to "save the world," Beckett argues that its core virtues of critical investigation and independent observation need to be upheld in this new participatory environment.

Beckett is director of Polis, the media thinktank at the London School of Economics.

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