In the Age of e-Journalism

Journalists, who are practiced in the art of chasing down the “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” and “why” of a story, may now be ready to add a sixth “w,” which stands for Web.

Use of the Internet by news reporters and editors is at an all time high, according to the seventh annual Middleberg/Ross survey of media in the wired world. The survey polled 500 journalists and found that nearly all of them went online daily to check for e-mail. The study also found that journalists spent 15 hours a week sending and receiving e-mail.

But the study also concluded, somewhat ominously, that reporters and editors are not adequately trained in Net usage, and that this lack of instruction, plus the competitive nature of journalism, can lead to trouble. Steve Ross, an associate professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, New York, and one of the authors of the report, said in a statement, “[Journalists] repeat rumors that originate online, are increasingly willing to use e-mail for interviewing and are unwilling to expand their readers’ understanding by linking to other sites, even when the sites are not competitors.”

Data Points
Percentage of journalists who say they or their colleagues engage in dialogue with readers through e-mail and discussion groups: 70 percent

Percentage in the year 2000 who said they go online for article research: 92
Percentage in the year 1995 who said they go online for article research:
66

Percentage in the year 2000 who reported they used e-mail: 98
Percentage in the year 1995 who reported they used e-mail:
59

Percentage that said they would consider reporting or spreading a story that started on the Net if confirmed by an independent source: 47

Source: The Seventh Annual Middleberg/Ross Survey of Media in the Wired World