One of the most widespread uses of the Internet is blogging. The number of blogs worldwide increased from 22 million in 2005 to more than 100 million by 2010. Among the most distinct features of blogs are their decentralized nature and the speed at which information is disseminated. Lacking established forms of gate-keeping, such as editors or pre-determined professional standards, bloggers are able to publish information quickly. Furthermore, being decentralized, bloggers are sometimes better positioned to report first-hand accounts of an event happening locally than are the big news agencies.
Bloggers also face some of the same risks and threats as professional journalists, as accounts of the arrests of bloggers, the filtering of content, and the disconnection of users has made clear. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) found that in 2008, for the first time, there were more jailed “online reporters,” such as bloggers, than traditional media journalists. As individual or freelancing bloggers continue to become a staple of news media, there is a need to provide protection to bloggers who perform the same responsibilities and face the same risks as professional journalists.
The rise of the Internet and other digital media pose a particular challenge for traditional news outlets including print and broadcasting. In many parts of the world, newspaper sales have declined since the early 2000s, and some have opted only to have electronic versions of their publications.
It is no secret that journalism is undergoing a shift: “We don’t own the media anymore,” said the director of the BBC World Service and Global News Division in 2005. Media owners and managers face some great challenges in adjusting to the new digital world: to continue to fund newsrooms staffed by professional journalists or to rely on blogs and other user-generated content.
It seems holding on to the well-established journalistic standards and maintaining editorial independence is one of the most pressing and urgent issues facing journalism in the digital age.