Thursday, August 9, 2007

Journalism continues to open or cheapen, depending on your view.

Google News added a feature that allows sources in the news to comment about the aggregated stories in which they are found, reports the Chicago Tribune.

What this means is that the official news story can take a different shape, receiving a steaming enema of accountability.

After this story appeared in the India Times regarding kids' preference for food in McDonald's packaging rather than the same food in brand X, McDonald's spokesman Walt Ricker, who was quoted in the article gave this pestilent platitude:
"McDonald's brand has earned the trust of customers for more than fifty years. The strength of any brand depends upon its performance, every single day, and if customers decide for themselves that a brand can't be trusted then they take their business elsewhere."

Although the article went after McDonald's alleged contribution to growing obesity among U.S. kids, Ricker could respond. Whether you thought he was spewing bull or giving a good defense may determine how democratic you find this.

In my view, it's good. You can hear another side of the story or at least be amused by bland, patronizing rhetoric.

Media purists (anti-blog), however, may frown. Speaking of, a Tech Dirt posting a while back gave an interesting perspective that news agencies like Agence France Press should embrace greater traffic than whine about copywrite infringement. (Do you hear the giant volcano threatening to eat up that Brontosaurus?)

Little mammals beneath the rocks are deciding to blend with the new media, to constructively take on challenges to the original format. Many newspapers are allowing open comments at the end of stories, including blogs and forums that give easy access to the reader. News stories and organizations are including references to Facebook, Friendster and MySpace.

Such is the growing trend, notes Ragan Communications' August PR Round-up Report.

"Just because newspapers are shrinking, doesn't mean journalism will shrink," says newsman Jeff Jarvis in the Report.

Maybe just climb up a different tree?

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