Some have charged journalism with being in a horrible state today. Writing for Slate.com, Matthew Yglesias affirms American journalism has never been better than it is today. Although that is probably true, it does raise some questions: Does it depend on whom you ask? How might the digitization of journalism affect its quality? Is the dwindling business of hardcopy publishing a factor? We will be analyzing these good questions for a long time.
Based on the Internet’s ubiquity and technology’s power, Yglesias counters some of the current arguments that journalism quality has degraded:
“Just ask yourself: Is there more or less good material for you to read today than there was 13 years ago? The answer is, clearly, more. . . . And of course digital technology also makes it dramatically easier to produce the news. Charts and graphs can be manufactured and published in minutes.”
I agree with Yglesias’ points. The journalistic platform today is immensely superior to its predecessors. Readers have more choices than at any time in the past.
Another interesting aspect of journalism today is the permanency and availability of all published work. Rather than buying a hardcopy subscription or taking a jaunt to the right library, any reader can access almost any written work online anytime, as Yglesias elaborates:
“Any individual journalist working today can produce much more than our predecessors could in 1978. And the audience can essentially read all of our output. Not just today’s output either. Yesterday’s and last week’s and last month’s and last year’s and so forth. To the extent that the industry is suffering, it’s suffering from a crisis of productivity.”
Exactly how the publishing and journalism industry will evolve during this crisis of productivity is going to be fascinating to watch. Nevertheless, we will do more than watch it. We will experience it. We will create it.