Implications for the Evolving Role of Journalists
in the Twenty-first Century
This book has argued that new media technology is enabling the emergence of a new form of news perhaps best described as contextualized journalism. Contextualized journalism incorporates not only the multimedia capabilities of digital platforms but also the interactive, hypermedia, fluid qualities of online communications and the customizable features of addressable media. It may help reengage an increasingly alienated and mistrusting news audience often frustrated by some traditional journalists' overuse of anonymous sources (e.g., even at distinguished news operations, veteran journalists reporting on independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr's investigation of President Clinton frequently attributed insights and allegations to unknown sources), unsubstantiated rumors, and quotations and other materials taken out of context.
Contextualized journalism also raises serious questions about the evolving role of journalists in an increasingly electronic world. The role of the journalist in an analog world has traditionally been dominated by three objectives: (1) to survey the world and report the facts as they are best understood; (2) to interpret those facts in terms of their impact on the local community or society at large; and (3) to provide opinion or editorial guidance on those facts, thereby helping to shape public opinion on matters of civic importance and to set an agenda for public discourse.
How is the role of the journalist changing as a result of an increasingly networked world? I believe change is happening in three fundamental ways. First, because of the ubiquitous nature of news and information in today's