The future of newspapers and free press is quickly heading toward the digital age.
Rick Rodriguez, executive editor of The Sacramento Bee and president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors presented these issues at the Renaissance Society’s last fall forum on Oct. 28.
As the availability of free press on the Internet gains more popularity, the theory that the end of newspapers becomes more threatening.
Many newspapers have seen a decline in the circulation of print journalism. The Bee, Rodriguez said, has experienced this decline. However, Rodriguez assured that the Sacramento Bee is here to stay.
“The Sacramento Bee will remain a newspaper, but be so much more,” Rodriguez said.
Currently, The Bee has a Web site that presents breaking stories throughout the day. Rodriguez said that the paper’s staff will move forward into the digital age by updating stories throughout the day, providing podcasts — clips of radio broadcasts and presenting videos of interviews and short documentaries.
But as news turns digital, the role of the traditional journalist is being questioned as well. Are citizen journalists taking over? Rodriguez said that citizen journalists are becoming more popular. Citizens are taking pictures of breaking news events, such as the bombings in London, and are providing reviews and commentaries.
However, the reviews and commentaries of citizen journalists rely on mainstream news he said. Citizen journalists lack something traditional journalists are known for being the “watchdog”. Chasing the big story and providing investigative reports is the kind of journalism that the traditional journalists do best, he said.
Attendees of the event asked Rodriguez about the lack of coverage of the war and the presentation of religious issues on the front page. Some believed that the Bee has been biased.
However, Tom Dole, a Renaissance Society member disagreed.
“He gave a very balanced view,” Dole said.
Sandy Dole, also a Renaissance Society member, said she learned a lot of new things at the forum.
“He covered a lot of bases,” she said.