Journalism for the 21st Century: Online Information, Electronic Databases, and the News

By Tom Koch | Go to book overview

2
Online News: Trivial, Contextual, and Structural

A number of separate but related factors impose upon the daily journalist's ability to fulfill either instrumental or institutional goals. Newspeople are constrained by economic imperatives, social perspectives, institutional restrictions, and a narrative form that organizes orally received data and makes it suitable for public dissemination. Electronic database technologies are not a panacea that will seamlessly or magically transform the news into a reasonably objective social service. But it is a new technology, and to the extent that news is structural and systemic, to alter a part is to affect the whole. This chapter attempts to show what online information systems can and, to some extent, have done. Because the use of these systems in contemporary newsrooms is so new and so tenuous, the analysis of their benefits must, to some extent, be speculative. The general argument is that these technologies will free journalists from a total reliance on the individual and thus, by definition, from limited views voiced by specific experts and officials. This freedom will allow reporters and editors themselves to define the context of a news story, thus regaining control of their own agenda and, perhaps, better approximate the profession's instrumental goals.

This advance is crucial, if limited. It is limited to the extent that it directly affects only one of the many social,

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Journalism for the 21st Century: Online Information, Electronic Databases, and the News
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Notes xxv
  • 1 - The News: Myths and Realities 1
  • Notes 51
  • 2 - Online News: Trivial, Contextual, and Structural 63
  • Notes 121
  • 3 - Transformations: Scale and Focus 129
  • Notes 176
  • 4 - Search Strategies: Electronic and Traditional 183
  • Notes 231
  • 5 - Electronic Libraries: Files, Vendors, and Databases 237
  • Notes 293
  • 6 - Conclusions 301
  • Notes 326
  • Appendix - Databases and Vendors 331
  • Selected Bibliography 341
  • Index 353
  • About the Author *
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