The Internet has produced a new way of looking at the news. Before the Internet, people were beholden to the mainstream press. If the mainstream press wanted to cover a certain item, while ignoring other items, then this was the news that was disseminated to the masses. …
There really was not a good way to fact check the media, nor understand the stories which were not covered in the media. Moreover, as Neil Postman (1984) states, the news shows were focused upon trivialities, superficialities and fluff. The news anchors who disseminated the news had the same mirthful expressions when they were reporting tragedies and comedy. The news presented issues in the same 45 second format, which makes even the most important issues seems trivial. Now, however, with the Internet, in particular the citizen bloggers and the satirical shows, there is a way to not only uncover buried information about stories that the mainstream media does not deem fit to cover, but there is also a way to fact-check the media and hold them accountable. This, perhaps, is the most important way that the Internet has changed how the audience perceives and consumes the news. Citizen Bloggers and Satirical Shows, and How They Help the Viewer Discern News One of the major changes in the way that the public understands news events is that these events are often filtered through what Hayes (2008) refers to as “citizen press critics” (p. 1). These “citizen press credits” are more commonly known as bloggers, and they work as a kind of “fifth estate” who attempt to keep the mainstream media honest. Lopez (2010) states that these bloggers are important to democracy, in that it shows that anybody can contribute to the discourse of politics and civility. Johnson & Kaye (2008) conducted a study and found that blogs are generally seen as a credible source of information, which makes them even more influential in conveying the news. Moreover, Lopez (2010) asserts that making news interactive, which blogs can accomplish by allowing the blog readers to make comments, makes the on-line experience richer, dynamic and shared. The Internet, in general, contributes to this sense of richness and dynamism, because it enables anybody to check out what the media is saying, which is in contrast to the way that things used to work, which was that the citzenry had to accept what the media was telling them, as there was not a way for the average person to find data to refute it. Moreover, Lopez (2010) asserts that the Internet, and the citizen bloggers, as important in that these mediums do not allow the media to control the message. As individuals filter and diffuse news through the peer to peer networks, and there is real-time fact checking involved, the media message might be watered down and more uncontrolled, and this is a good thing, according to Lopez (2010). Alternatively, the Internet can provide information about news that the mainstream media may decline to cover. An example of this is that, after September 11, and during the Iraq war, the mainstream media did not cover the issue of Iraqi deaths, so, more and more, citizens searched on the Internet regarding this topic, and it became the topic of blogs as well (Salwen et al., 2005). This is important, because, as Li (2006) notes, the media often sets the agenda, and the priorities on the issues that it will cover. This, in turn, colors how people may view a certain event, as well as how many citizens are aware of certain issues and events. It may also color how important an issue or event is perceived – if the media covers something extensively, then this topic or issue will be seen as important, and the opposite of the media declines to cover this event or issue (Li, 2006). However, the citizen critics may keep a buried issue alive, or bring it to fore, which is helpful to people who do not want to be influenced by the media about certain events, and people who want to know about underreported stories. The Internet, in ...
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