Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Intercollegiate Media Studies

Reader 1

James Morrison

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© 2013 Olivia L. Sylvester

Abstract

Today’s digital environment has revolutionized the way journalism is manufactured and consumed. Recent changes both empower citizens and present challenges for news organizations and their journalists. Among these challenges is the rapidly growing news aggregation business. News aggregators are websites that do not produce much original content, but curate and organize news articles created by others using human editorial judgment, computer algorithms, or a combination of both. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to evaluate the state of the news media and its relationship with news aggregators in an attempt to answer this central question: Do news aggregators facilitate or impede the news industry’s ability to serve its normative functions in a democratic society? I will argue that while aggregators have improved access to news and amplified the amount of information available to citizens, effective democracy requires the existence of news organizations that employ professional journalists who know how to report new information, not merely to restate and repurpose existing articles. News aggregators build their businesses around monetizing third-party content, effectively stealing readership and advertising revenue from the original publishers. This has created a news industry that is undermanned and struggles to produce quality journalism.

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