WEB 2.0 IS RUBBISH
Webfolk call the burgeoning interactive use of the internet ‘Web 2.0’, in the manner of software manufacturers numbering their products. It’s full of possibilities – and of dangers for journalism, as DONNACHA DE LONG reports
IN THE AGE of technological integration in the media, the term Web 2.0 has increasingly become common currency. Even where the term is not used, the fundamental concepts of user participation and feedback have infused many of the ideas that have gone hand-in-hand with the major changes in work practices that have excited, worried and infuriated working journalists in varying measures.
So what's wrong with it? Isn't increased participation and feedback from our "users" -- readers and viewers -- a good thing? Of course it is, but the problem with Web 2.0 is not how it introduces these elements to the media, but how it's seen as replacing traditional media.
Professional media provide users with something that we need to fight to retain – truly authoritative content. The professional journalist brings training, experience and access to a variety of sources that may be inaccessible to the average person. They have the ability to produce content that informs and fulfil an essential part of democracy – the widespread dissemination of information that allows the public to question those in charge.
The media are not perfect. More often than not, they focus on issues the public is interested in rather than those that are truly in the public interest. But those who argue that Web 2.0 is the future want to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
The Internet has always contained the potential to change the media. The ability to challenge authority, to provide an alternative narrative and to present a variety of points of view is what the Internet provides. But the idea that, instead of posting comments below a journalistic article, we get rid of the article altogether and just have the comments is truly dangerous.
There are those who claim that Web 2.0 democratises the media. It would make everyone equal, yes, but should they be? It’s like saying anyone can play for Manchester United. In one of the main examples given to explain Web 2.0, Wikipedia replaces Britannica Online. Is that the kind of democracy we want – where anyone can determine the information that the public can access, regardless of their level of knowledge, expertise or agenda?
- Donnacha Delong is a member of the NUJ Multi-Media Commission. He represents new media journalists on the union’s National Executive Council