It’s a controversial notion, the idea that non-journalists increasingly may be doing what in the past has been the domain of journalists and editors.
Controversial in particular, you understand, to journalists … and editors.
In any event, the Project for Excellence in Journalism, PEJ, took a snapshot to address the question “If someday we have a world without journalists, or at least without editors, what would the news agenda look like?”
No one will suggest that the quick look is scientific or broadly representative, so take its conclusions in stride. The report looked at the week of June 24-29, 2007, a week when Iraq dominated mainstream news content. It compared that coverage with coverage in three leading user-news sites – Reddit, Digg, and Del.icio.us.
Some key findings from the report, “The Latest News Headlines – Your Vote Counts“:
- The news agenda differed “markedly” from that of mainstream media, with little overlap between them and “often little in the way of follow-up.”
- Sources on the user news sties were “strikingly different,” more than 7 in 10 either blogs or web sites such as YouTube and WebMd, and not focusing on news.
- The focus on the three user news sites were fairly narrow ñ events in Washington for Reddit, the release of Apple’s new IPhone for Digg, and “the most fragmented mix of stories” for Del.icio.us.
PEJ is wise to draw little by way from its snapshot research. For those keeping an early eye on how the so-called “epochal transformation” now well under way in journalism will affect climate change coverage … you’ll just have to keep waiting and keep watching.