Technology Can’t Replace Journalism


Fast Company recently published a story about a Vice reporter uses Google Glass to report on demonstrations in the Middle East and the United States.

The article was a glowing tribute to the benefits of using innovative technology to enhance journalism.

There’s was just one problem.

As near as I can tell the “journalism” that came from using Google Glass looked like this:



Looks like a bunch of scattered images compiled into an incomprehensible GIF file.

Just so you know the above image was used as an example of the amazing potential of using Google Glass for journalism. It was taken during a demonstration in New York after the Trayvon Martin trial verdict, but for all I know it could have been shot during a street carnival in Rio. Or after a Motely Crue concert.

That’s because there’s no context. No doubt this is livestreaming of a news event. It might rightly be called reporting.

But is this journalism?

I’d argue no.

I don’t want to focus too much on Vice – and it isn’t my intention to criticize their reporting or how they are trying to introduce technology and innovation into live reporting. More power to them.

This is a larger question of how we as a society are going to define journalism and its practice.

Spot reporting from inside a riot might be cool, but it provides questionable value as a journalism. That’s because anyone with an iPhone or a Google Glass can “report” on a breaking news event – an airplane crash, a hurricane, a tornado. So-called citizen journalists and bloggers have been doing that for years.

And don’t get me wrong that can provide value. But that isn’t journalism.

Journalism isn’t about providing instant headlines or simply being present at “news” events. It’s about providing context. Journalism is getting beneath the news to provide insight. It’s investigation, analysis and thoughtful commentary. It’s in-depth expository reporting. It informs – and yes, even entertains.

We shouldn’t confuse reporting and journalism. They aren’t the same thing. And while technology can help enhance journalism it is only a tool.

Just because you have a hammer doesn’t mean you’re a carpenter.

Just because you have cool technology doesn’t mean you’re a journalist.


Fast Company‘s “How Vice Hacked Google Glass to Tell Crisis Stories”

Newspapers Should Replace Reporting with Journalism

Reporting is Now  Commodity, Journalism Isn’t

2 Responses to “Technology Can’t Replace Journalism”

  1. Your thesis addresses the current active debate on this subject and I’m in agreement with it. I’m also aware as a blogger that I have a limited though responsible role to play within my sphere of influence and credit my readers with knowing the difference between me and CNN. Good article – thanks.

  2. Appreciate it, Mike.

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