OLD Media Moves

Golden Age of consumer reporting on the horizon

September 4, 2008

David Cay Johnston, a former New York Times business reporter, writes in the latest issue of Columbia Journalism Review that the Internet could usher in a golden age for consumer journalism.

Columbia Journalism ReviewJohnston writes, “It makes common sense now that audiences hunger for news that affects their lives, their pocketbooks, and their quality of life, news that sheds light on complex business practices that can gouge their wallets, and news about government actions that withdraw consumer protections from their families.

“Covering these issues does not require a vast new investment in newsrooms. The Internet provides quick and easy access to documents that were once costly to obtain. In many jurisdictions, complete court records are online, as are extensive corporate disclosures to the Securities and Exchange Commission, databases on all kinds of subjects that seldom get scrutinized by reporters—from toy recalls by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to studies and inspector-general reports on how consumer agencies perform.

“The Web also makes possible graphics and interactive features to engage readers, and provides tools to reach new audiences and to quickly spread important information. And newspapers have an immense advantage in their staffs of trained reporters, who know how to hunt down facts, check and cross-check them, and organize them into meaningful articles. The trick is in how those resources are deployed.”

Read more here.

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