`How News Happens'

A study from Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism finds that real "news" - that is, something new, and not just recycled - is reported almost entirely by traditional media, especially newspapers. The study of news reporting in Baltimore for the week of July 19-25 found that it is very rare for "new media" to do any original reporting. The study, called "How News Happens," added:

In the growing echo chamber online, formal procedures for citing and crediting can get lost. We found numerous examples of websites carrying sections of other peoples work without attribution and often suggesting original reporting was added when none was.

Project for Excellence in Journalism has provided some actual evidence to counter those advocates of so-called "citizens' journalism" who have gleefully been preaching a sort of media apocalypse in which bloggers will replace the mainstream media. It is time to face up to the fact that while "citizens' journalism" will occasionally add some worthwhile new information to public debate, it will never produce any meaningful volume of original news reporting. It is vital to our country that newspapers make the transition to the Web so that they can continue to do original reporting.A fair amount of foundation money has been going toward funding "citizens' journalism" experiments, and maybe these foundations should re-direct that money to help preserve traditional media, perhaps as non-profits. Unfortunately, even major newspapers are trying to do local coverage that relies on unpaid bloggers.

Paul Moses, a contributing writer at Commonweal, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @PaulBMoses. 

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