How to get the scoop: look to Britain

Though Fleet Street has lost much of its visible luster with the departure of its last international news agency today, the newspaper industry in Britain still maintains what the United States organizations are losing to the blogosphere: the ability to get the scoop. A New York Times article heralds the ‘freewheeling past’ of British journalists, their willingness to use any means necessary to report, even if their judgment errs slightly to the left of the law. The article says this:

While Fleet Street is as hypercompetitive as ever, its relationship with blogs is more symbiotic than the parallel connection in the United States, where bloggers portray the “mainstream media” as the enemy or, worse, an irrelevance…For now, British editors remain willing to work the gray areas. The result may not always be pretty, but it helps explain why they are hanging on to the scoops.

Bloggers in the US are following the British journalistic tradition, often disregarding journalism ethics and letting stories pan out without stringent fact checking and rigid regard for the absolute truth.

But the American news media may be catching on. In June, an article by Brian Stelter in the New York Times reported that mainstream news organizations were responding to the blogosphere’s coverage of the Iranian protests, choosing to “check the source” later, and using unconfirmed video clips and soundbites before they were confirmed.

Journalism ethics may dictate otherwise, but this quick dissemination of news, this sharing of information based on a reporter’s hunch, could revive newspapers. And when traditional journalism is becoming extinct anyway, maybe reporters don’t need a third confirmation to run a story. Maybe they don’t even need one.

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