Journalistic Background: Ms. Julia James graduated from Stanford with a B.S. in Geological and Environmental Sciences and enjoys writing about human and environmental health. Her most recent journalistic endeavor has been contributing content to Scope, the Stanford School of Medicine Blog.
The Promise of Internet Journalism: Looking toward the future, James knows one thing for sure: she has no less enthusiasm about the journalistic product. Yet the current issues facing journalism are the result of a separate history. “Journalism didn’t start out married to the web from the beginning,” James said. “Yet when media moved over content to the web, people expected the content to be free.” James approaches the very problem that Williams notices as well: that there is a rift between the expectations and the reality of Internet journalism. She also echoes another of Williams’ points: “ad sales online cannot support a journalistic enterprise in the same way that an ad model for print journalism did” said James.
Yet the promise lies in what the digital age can give us. Content on paper is simply a string of text with static images. It is just about disposable the next day, since data isn’t updated, information isn’t corrected, and there is no interface. The web allows for all these things, and more. James called this the new ‘dynamic media’: media that is accompanied with graphics and interactive displays, media that is updated and corrected as time progressed, media that contains within it reactions and criticisms of the viewpoints presented. This is the kind of living, breathing coverage that will be the journalism of the future — if the media of today can make it economically sustainable.
This is different than the prevailing wisdom of Internet journalism, at least from James’ perspective. “I am supposed to think that sites are successful because they are very specific or very good at aggregating information” said James. “But I don’t like those ideas.” Instead, media sites will earn respect for their editorial wisdom and journalistic experience, not their narrowness or their ability to bring in links from all over the Internet. “The New York Times is a place full of people with very good judgments and opinions and I am willing to pay for that online as well as in print” said James. The question is if you and I are as well.
Essentially, the future of the media is an exciting place, filled with expertise and community and a whole lot of insight. The vision of a truly dynamic media is compelling; the central problem is the bridging the unrealistic expectations for free quality online content with the reality of the news marketplace.