Reporting in the age of web 2.0 has a new element: aggregating information from first-hand online sources and presenting it in an orderly fashion.
First-hand online sources used to be online press releases, or government-released documents, (compared to reporting from second-hand online sources such as local newspapers) but thanks to the at-large reporting community, the pool of first-hand sources is expanding– exponentially. Through Twitter, Flickr, blogs, and other sites that support real-time content, one can get updates on the situation without leaving the country. The recent tragedy in Mumbai was a great example.
I’m not suggesting that fieldwork is not important, but the definition of “journalist” is getting blurry. How is a journalist different from a reporter? If we are we using the term “participatory journalism” instead of “participatory reporting?” does than mean the definition of journalism has already changed, despite legacy media’s reluctance to acknowledge it? Most probably in the future, journalists will have a bigger editorial role in aggregating information, weighing it, and presenting it to those of us who don’t have time (nor want to spend the time) visiting various Twitter feeds or reading multiple blog sites. Then we should have to coin a new term for journalists who do their own legwork.
But I don’t think we should be pessimistic about the new technologies that are changing journalism. Even in Web 1.0, hyperlinks totally changed journalism. Although there are downsides of hyperlinks, they are great in providing information because digital articles can easily direct people to more detailed information– something print articles couldn’t do.