“Crowdsourcing, a new form of volunteer journalism with information sent put together by professionals, is emerging in popularity. For example, on OhmyNews, citizen journalists write about things happening in their area and forward to editors or professional news people who then edit and post it,” said Olson.
Some major dailies in US, like the Washington Post, have formed partnerships with various parties, whereby the “parties represent the niche markets they are going after.” She added, “This way the Washington Post builds profitability and audience to bring different audience to its newspaper through different products it brings together.”
Another challenge for journalists is timeliness where the immediacy of the Internet is changing how quickly people seek information and how they judge its value, with journalists forced to post news online very fast to keep up with the changing speed and angle of the story. Online mainstream media have to also compete with specialised sites that provide information on a personal level, such as road traffic, crime occurrences in their area, etc, which all “re-defines what people expect from mainstream media.”
To the question from a participant on whether the digital revolution creates a more marginalised community, Olson said up-to-date news is not just delivered through the Internet but wireless technology. She noted that in countries like Africa, Korea and China, people get the latest news, reduced to briefs, delivered on their mobile phones, therefore levelling the information people receive.
On the factual integrity of news posted on the Internet, Olson said readers have to decide on what information to trust. Newspaper organisations therefore try to provide the latest information online to readers knowing that they have a trusted brand on their side.
To another query, she said advertisers do not want to pay money that they used to pay for print advertisements and so “newspapers are losing money faster than they can go online.” She said presently there are no newspaper models in US that are making money and the future direction is maybe “subscription media” where people pay for the specific, detailed information, such as politics.
WOU deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) Prof Wong Tat Meng acted as the moderator for the talk.