Blurred Lines

By Lune van der Meulen

Is there a blurred line between journalists and a non-journalist since digital innovation? The opinions about this differ. Pieter van den Blink (editor at 360 Magazine and former editor at Trouw and Vrij Nederland) states that only journalists used to have the power to decide what to write about. Sometimes a reader or a non-journalist would call the newspaper to tip a subject, or to request an article about a certain topic. Journalist could decide whether they’d say thanks but no thanks, or to use this tip. These days, the press doesn’t have this power anymore since non-journalists are able to write about anything that they want to online.

Also, writers and journalist are now facing with the facts of the web analytics. If an article scores badly online and it ensures only very few clicks, the editorial office knows this instantly through web analytics. This also works the other way around, popular articles can be analysed. This could have an impact on which articles or what topics newspapers or news organizations chose to publish about.

On the other hand the input of readers can also work in the advantage of journalists. An example of this is The Correspondent that uses the input and expertise of their readers, or their “community of tribe” to contribute to research process. They seem to understand exactly what Edson, Tandoc and Thomas wrote in 2015: “The role, however, should not swing mindlessly into providing what the audience wants. The role should be about understanding what the audience wants and how journalists can take that information and balance this against what the audience needs. It is an unusual responsibility, but journalism is an unusual public good.”


Edson C. Tandoc Jr. & Ryan J. Thomas (2015) The Ethics of Web Analytics, Digital Journalism, 3:2, 243-258

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