Journalism lacks originality

Today’s reporters gain time by spinning out previously published stories on the hamster wheel of journalism, but they sacrifice one key facet—originality.

According to Dean Starkman from the Columbia Journalism Review, the “hamster wheel renders that news organizations are deeply passive.” Instead of taking time to do active reporting, journalists are waiting for the news to come to them, most often in the form of other stories.


Kelly McBride said in her Poynter article, “In our panic to keep up with a changing world, we’ve failed to identify new methods for originality.” Originality is a problem.

The field is losing its originality.  The pressure to produce more with less is the main cause. Journalists are being asked to get a story without taking time to gather information. In response, many are taking less time to do research of their own and instead turn to stories that are already out there.

Journalists seem to be stuck running on the beaten path. Julie Moos said on Poynter, “No one needs a map to travel familiar roads. We need one — or a tour guide — to lead us into unfamiliar terrain.” Due to the lack of originality, journalism has commonly become a road map for the familiar beaten path of the hamster wheel.

Reporters used to get out of the office and out where the news is, but today there is no time. Reporters do not have time to get a story first hand, so they turn to the work of other reporters or news aggregate sites like The Huffington Post.

According to Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, Internet journalism is still largely second-hand material. The table below shows story origination data:

Screen shot 2013-02-25 at 10.14.58 PM

Can journalists escape the hamster wheel? Matt Bai from the New York Times says to focus on going beyond “what’s being told over and over again.” He suggests ignoring conventional media outlets:

In today’s world, reporters are under pressure to keep up their endurance on the hamster wheel of journalism.

–Cheyanne Davis

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