As the news environment changed with the advent of the internet, so did the ethics and principles of news presentation and consumption. News today not just dictates or states facts; the role of journalists and consumers mutually interact in the way to revitalise the civic life and give news a novel meaning and impact. In this environment, civic participation emerges to be critical to advance development in emerging societies. A question then arises concerning how online journalism has facilitated the influence of communication on such engagement.
To demonstrate how forms and practices have shaped the development of information is a challenge. There can be little doubt, however, that this process of transformation is uneven. For every journalist who heralds the promise of new technological possibilities to better situate online media within social networks, there is a value in pausing to consider the changing practices of the industry itself.
The emergence of online journalism holds a great promise for the future of communication. It can be an effective means of engagement. According to this view, empirical evidence suggests that online use significantly contributes to enhancing political interest and increasing the likelihood of voting. In contrast, cyber–pessimists argue that the impact is limited: their view is that the internet merely reinforces existing political orientations or even atrophies social and political engagement.
Online deliberation on issues of public interest enhances citizens’ political qualities. It has also been found that deliberative practices increase the positive impact of media and hence, online journalism is an important research agenda to resolve conflicting views on its political influence.
The values of the internet and social networking have changed the way traditional journalists do their jobs. During crises, massive amounts of real-time information and footage are released, and one consequence of this influx of information is that it makes it nearly impossible to verify data.
Where once the average citizen had only a handful of sources to rely on, now there is the internet and blogosphere where ideas are being shared across countries and regions.
No doubt, the internet has revolutionised traditional journalism in general and online journalism in particular. In the past, journalists used to labour to gain access to information, but things changed with the advent of the internet that made access easy and within reach, no matter the distances.
Ahmed Malik is Account Executive at Cicero & Bernay Public Relations, an independent PR agency headquartered in Dubai offering new-age public relations consultancy to the UAE and across the MENA region. | www.cbpr.me