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Digital Media and the Downfall of Professional Occupations

 

The Downfall of Professional Journalists and Doctors

Journalists and doctors, occupations that once received tremendous respect, are becoming less honorable as digital media becomes more accessible. The power of digital media has allowed specialized and regular citizens to contribute their knowledge, and on the other end easily access others’, regarding stories and medical conditions. People used to turn to journalists and doctors as their primary sources of information. However, now they venture to the Internet to do research of their own.

Journalists

Citizen journalism has undermined the profession of journalism immensely. Often times, professional journalists who wanted to be heard by an audience had to attend a well-respected college and major in a subject that would focus on building up their writing and researching skills. Today, these types of preparations are no longer necessary. Anyone interested in weighing in on a certain topic can do so freely, regardless of his or her writing background.

People without professional journalism training can use the tools of modern technology and the global distribution of the Internet to create, augment or fact-check media on their own or in collaboration with others.” (Glaser).

Unfortunately for professional journalists, this type of fluid contribution that exists in the digital media world means that these citizen journalists’ stories are just as likely to be read as professional journalists’.

At times, citizen journalists can provide information that is for more valuable than what professional journalists can provide because they have some type of specialized knowledge or inner connection to the subject at hand. However, there are other times that citizen journalists do not provide quality work, and therefore should not be thought of as being on the same level as professional journalists.

By accepting the citizen journalists’ works just as much as professional journalists’ works, readers are undermining the dedication and hard work that professional journalists had to endure to get to where they are. This is not to say that citizen journalists’ stories are any less important than professional journalists’.  However, some traditional journalist advocates do believe that professional journalism is far more superior. Anne Moore, the Chairman and CEO of TIME, Inc. argues that professional journalists, “go to war-torn countries and put themselves in danger to provide regular citizens with a complete story, while, most citizen journalists plagiarize their work” (Conner Smith).

In today’s society, due to the increased involvement of the public contributing to journalism, the profession of journalism is not as highly revered as it once was. Everyone knows someone who has contributed a story-whether it be to a news outlet, blog, or circulated on email. Achieving such an accomplishment is no longer as rare as it once was.

Doctors

Similar to journalists, doctors have also undergone a slight decline in their sense of professionalism. Today, more than ever, patients are turning to the Web for an analysis of their symptoms in an effort to diagnose themselves. Doctors are required to partake in many years of extensive schooling to get to the level that they are at. Their professionalism is undermined by the fact that patients are increasingly turning to digital media as a source of information regarding symptoms, treatments, and causes.

 

Cost, hassle, and lack of necessary time to visit a doctor are just a few reasons that the Internet may be a more convenient option for patients.  In a 2012 survey conducted by Pew Research, it was found that 72% of Internet users had searched online for health information within the past year.

“Now the Internet provides access to scholarly journals, videos of surgeries, testimonials and online health communities, effectively putting medical information (both valuable and inaccurate) in the hands of non-experts” (Stephanie Buck).

With the vast amount of tools that digital media provides us with, non-experts can become experts- although it is important to note that not all sources online are reliable. The concept of patients becoming as knowledgeable as doctors through the use of Internet research, undercuts the the professionalism of doctors and all of the hard work that they have put in to acquire their position.

 

Journalists vs. Doctors

The introduction of digital media’s effect on the professionalism of doctors is not nearly as dangerous as it is to the professionalism of journalists. Websites may help patients diagnose themselves, but who is going to prescribe them the necessary medication? Doctors will be needed for this. Professional journalists, on the other hand, run the risk of becoming obsolete in the future. Citizen journalists have proved to be stiff competition. If all continues as is, journalists may opt to skip the hassles associated with becoming a professional journalist, and go down the route of citizen journalism instead.

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