THE concern that professional status is protected and respected is at present, apparently widespread and heartfelt in journalistic circles. With the inexorable rise of the 'citizen journalism' phenomena in this digital age, professional journalists are having to make concerted efforts to ensure their words are not only valued above, but heard at all amidst the cacophony of amateur news writers and bloggers.
Indeed, attention given to the current condition of journalism is far from being a mere response to the laments of the concerned within the profession. The value and necessity of traditional journalism is appreciated by the biggest names in the very medium that has facilitated the rise of those presenting the greatest threat: the Internet.
Vint Cerf, the 'Father of the Internet', recognised the timeless worth of the chief principles of classic journalism: selection and prioritisation in the midst of endless reams of information, the Baynewser reported. Vint Cerf, a leading computer scientist who designed Internet protocols and the first commercial email service, is known for his public interest in the relationship between the Internet and society. While speaking at the Sixth Conference on Innovation Journalism, held at Stanford, Google's Chief Internet Evangelist emphasised the increasing importance of branding,
"In this gigantic mass of information that's accessible to anyone who's interacted with the Internet, how can we help people learn to trust opinions, learn to trust selections, choices and reports coming from journalists? ...[Branding] is one of the elements that will help you compete against all the other sources of information that people are exposed to."
Whilst maintaining that branding could serve as a safe guard of the fundamentals of journalism, Cerf advised those embracing the digitalization of the news to make sure it wasn't seen as a basic choice of medium. Rather, innovation was necessary.
These latter comments are hardly ground breaking- journalists have been making use of the worldwide web since its inception. There does seem to have been, however, a rush in the development of online services designed to air the views and news of amateur hacks. The New York Times recently reported on, for example, the new application of a well-used document-sharing site, Scribd, which will allow anyone to upload their work, charge for it and keep 80 per cent of the revenue. Moreover, collaboration projects between amateur contributors and news organisations are crystallizing, such as the partnership between