A Columbia Journalism Review feature called ‘Confidence Game’ has taken up the case for newspapers. Dean Starkman argues that a group of intellectuals he calls the ‘Future of News’ group, or “FON consensus”, is championing a new kind of journalism based on peer-production at the expense of the traditional news media. Starkman argues that this new kind of journalism can’t ever hope to produce the public interest journalism of the traditional news media – the kind of institution-centred journalism typified by Nick Davies, the Guardian journalist who broke the News of the World scandal. Starkman calls his preferred model of journalism the Neo-Institutional Hub-and-Spoke model. He advocates “[r]ebuilding and shoring up institutions” that can give professional reporters the time they require to produce journalism in the public interest. The reporting is published by the institution and disseminated and commented upon by social media.
At a Wheeler Centre event earlier this year, ‘Taking Liberties With the Press’, media commentator Margaret Simons spoke in defence of ‘public interest reporting’ but admitted that the notion was a difficult one to define. “Journalism relies on the unauthorised disclosure. That’s what most journalism that isn’t public relations is … The question is where do you draw the [ethical] line and why, and the answer of course is the public interest. But what I would say is that journalists in general and certainly journalists in this country don’t give enough thought to what we mean by that.”
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