/ Modified oct 21, 2013 8:54 a.m.

AZ Week: Effects of Technology, Other Forces in Current Journalism

5 media members explore state of media in society as 'watchdogs,' transparency of information, technology.


Journalism continues to evolve and shape itself as time goes on. Every decade has given the media its share of obstacles and aides, all of which have - negatively and positively - affected its responsibility to be a trustworthy medium of information between the public, politicians and the rest of the world.

During a discussion for Friday's Arizona Week, five media members explored the current stand of journalism in society as "watchdogs," transparency of information, and the advantages and disadvantages technology and the Internet have brought into the field.

Evans ITB larger Mark Evans, editor of Inside Tucson Business.

"These are very great and terrifying days to be a journalist," said Mark B. Evans, editor of Inside Tucson Business. "Glorious days for journalism because it is easier now than ever to gather information from ... government and other resources ... "

Evans said the Internet makes it easier for journalists to gather information. In the past, people who can now access a website and gather facts within minutes, would have taken days or weeks to conduct that type of research in a library.

"Even the smallest of newsrooms can gather information and report stories they never could have been able to do 25 years ago," he said.

Rick Rodriguez, professor of journalism in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, agreed in the sense that technology and the Internet have a positive weight on investigative journalism.

"Technology allows us to do watchdog journalism in ways that are more effective," Rodriguez said.

The Internet also has its downfalls. Journalists now face the challenge to separate deceitful information from damaging the reputation of trustworthy news outlets and journalism in general.

Rick Rodriguez ASU Rick Rodriguez, professor of journalism in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

Also, not all information or public records are available online.

Technology makes it is easier to obtain certain records, but a lot are still generated by municipalities not in a digital form, said Jill Jorden Spitz, senior editor at the Arizona Daily Star.

And, as David Cuillier, director of the University of Arizona's School of Journalism, puts it: Journalists still have a very difficult time getting their hands on public records.

"News organizations are also less likely to sue for those records," he said. "It is a fight, frankly. It is a war over information."

Despite that, Jorden Spitz said investigative journalism is very much alive and successful.

However, Rodriguez, who is the former editor of the Sacramento Bee, argued that, while there are still great investigative journalists out there, politicians and other public figures are no longer threatened by the sense of 'being caught,' due to a weakening presence of newspapers and other media outlets.

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