There is no doubt that journalism is changing (or as some say, “unraveling”). The way the world consumes the news is no longer fetching the morning paper and turning on the evening news. We are no longer passive consumers, we are actively seeking the news, sometimes creating it ourselves, and sharing it with our friends, family and the world. We are questioning everything and attempting to create new avenues for a revenue solution. Without the news, who holds the government, the people accountable for their actions? Journalism has a history rooted in government, accountability, and truth.
When things change we recoil. We have a knee-jerk reaction to the new. However, we are seeing innovative approaches to writing, sharing and selling news or stories in an attempt to recover what once was and what will be. Google has thrown a wrench into the whole process. They have issued a warning that if news is tangled with promoted or sponsored content that the publication may all together be excluded from Google News. A concerning thought comes to mind when a company attempts to assert any kind of control over the news industry.
The question becomes who controls the news?
Should news companies retain their independence or allow companies like Google to issue decree’s about they way they write and share stories? This idea of independence is a false notion – media companies have long been controlled by someone other than the idealistic theory of truth and impartiality.
However, in this case it would seem Google is vying for a strong role in deciding what news is or should be. However, money has always played a role in journalism, news curation and distribution. While tried and true journalists would like to consider themselves impartial, telling the truth and damn anyone who tries to stop them, the reality is that monetary responsibility and politics have always had a voice. The problem is without money to pay for the publication and the writers who tell the stories, how does the story get written?Here is where it becomes murky: with the introduction and prevalence of the internet and blogs, anyone can write and share stories. This allows for the story to be the most important thing, but there is no money in and of itself. The key has always been the eyes reading the content. While your story may be true and real and honest, without the eyes to read it, the story doesn’t matter. When the eyes are reading what you write, that’s when the money comes and the advertisers and eventually – the dictation.
Is Google trying to keep the news as pure as it can be? Or are they simply another voice among the noise having its say. And as the largest search engine in the world, they have a strong say when exclusion is their bargaining terms.
Is it fair? Is it right? Is there another way?
Buzzfeed has embraced the idea of sponsored stories. What do you think?