Michael Bugeja on Stewart, Assange and Journalism Education

Michael Bugeja, author of Vanishing Act: The Erosion of Online Footnotes and Implications for Scholarship in the Digital Age, has an article in today’s Inside Higher Ed about the current state of journalism: Stewart, Assange and Journalism Education:

Satirist Jon Stewart and activist Julian Assange are symbols of a world without journalism — a largely online marketing-based, consumer-driven world at odds with principles of democracy and freedom.

Stewart is often considered a journalist because he holds people accountable when many metro media outlets no longer do so in their downsized newsrooms. “The Daily Show” does this often by following up on what newsmakers did or said in the past and then comparing that to current, contradictory actions and statements. Wikileaks purportedly holds people and governments accountable. It does so, however, by “WebThink.” Whereas responsible journalists scrutinize motives of tipsters and fact-check authenticity of cables, WebThink just dumps it all on the Internet and lets computer chips fly where they may.

In this brave new media world, you learn about a crisis when it has reached unmanageable proportions, such as happened in the subprime housing debacle at the roots of a recession that has slashed budgets at colleges and universities. And that is why educators everywhere should be concerned about the demise of global journalism, networks of trained reporters and editors generating content on the scene in national and international bureaus. We no longer live nor educate in that world. By elevating access over truth, ours has become a world that reacts via commentary rather than prevents in advance of calamity….