In the beginning, media journalism was the province of a town crier. Later came newspapers, followed by television and radio. These latter three communication venues — town criers fell by the wayside around the time Gutenberg invented the printing press — held a virtual monopoly on media journalism until the creation of the Internet. The resulting chat rooms, blogs, news sites, personal websites, podcasts, and video opportunities offered both news and opinion from individuals and experts alike. The result has come to be known as new media journalism.
The meteoric rise of new media journalism might have been driven primarily by advancements in technology, but a general dissatisfaction with existing forms of journalism also played a role. Sometimes traditional media journalists lived up to their own standards of neutral and unbiased reporting, and sometimes they didn’t. In the last quarter of the 20th century — likely in an effort to increase profits — the lines between traditional media journalism, advertising, entertainment, and agenda-driven reporting became rather blurry. New media journalism — reporting and opinion provided by what are often called “citizen journalists” — exploded in terms of type, number, and popularity.
A number of websites specializing in new media journalism grew so large and popular as to become viable competitors to the traditional media. Websites of new media journalists tend to be agenda-oriented. For instance, major players in the field such as The Drudge Report are geared toward an audience with conservative leanings, while sites such as The Huffington Post strive to reach a more liberal audience. The difference between these new media journalists and traditional media journalists is that the former do not normally put up a pretense of being unbiased. The reader knows what they are getting before the fact, and thus can peruse a variety of different offerings and make their own distinctions between fact and opinion.
The owners of traditional media groups, as well as the reporters and broadcasters who worked for such organizations, originally tended to dismiss bloggers and other new media journalists as unprofessional. That scenario changed when many traditional journalists — dissatisfied with the tight restrictions on coverage and content under which they had previously worked — moved into the world of new media journalism. Though it took a few years for the mainstream press to bow to the inevitable, many traditional outlets now utilize the myriad possibilities of new media journalism to spread their message to the public.