The Internet, especially, remains mostly unregulated. Smartphones, YouTube, Twitter and other technologies advance far faster than laws — and even norms — can evolve. A danger with the new, instant media may be that its sheer speed, infinite fragmentation, abuses, hasty reactions, and insufficient contexts may diminish our appetite for patience, complexity, deliberation, moderation and the long view.
The growth of online news will continue; printed papers will shrink. But regardless of where journalism operates, there is no substitute for the profession policing itself so that it offers exemplary standards that citizens can continue to trust. Perhaps more than the government or the private sector, an honest and really intelligent press and a caring and intelligent citizenry are the guarantors of a livable pluralism and a democracy.
Brian T. Watson is a regular Salem News columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.