What yesterday’s news means for today

Thursday evening the founder of the journalism department Daniel E. Thornburgh died. Thornburgh was the department’s first chairman and it is through his hard work and belief in an independent student press that the Daily Eastern News has such a high degree of independence on this campus.

In the days since his death, I have heard many stories of the man many fondly referred to as “DT.” From what I have gathered from professors and alumni, Thornburgh was a dedicated journalist who worked tirelessly to expand the department and to educate young journalists.

We have the news outlets at Eastern today because of him.

I know while he was still able to walk in the last few months of his life he would walk to campus everyday and pick up the Daily Eastern News, so maybe he did not read the comments online.

I can only hope so because they say little for the future of journalism.

In fact these comments say little at all.

I should know, because every day I read the comments on dennews.com.

Apparently people feel comfortable enough with the anonymity of the Internet to hide behind a pseudonym and bully, insult and ridicule others.

I will not go on a tirade about the inane and inarticulate comments that appear regularly on our online editions, because the real issue comes down to the fact that this generation, my generation, does not value news in the same way that previous ones have.

Now, the news is splintered into dozens of platforms that people are not only confused about where to get their news from, but what is actually news.

There is a theory that the Internet creates an “online democracy” that allows for an open discourse between people and the discovery of the truth through the many.

Ideally that would be true, but in actuality the Internet is just a gathering place for collective idiocy.

In the journalism world, there is a lot of debate over what to do with online commenting. Editors go from the extreme of The New York Times which checks every single comment, to other newspapers that allow anyone to comment without any sort of login.

Our current website only requires an e-mail address and any name to create an account to leave a comment. But even that policy is up for debate because rarely are any of the comments actually about the story they are posted under.

Also, just to clarify, it is our policy to not respond to comments online, but like any other part of our paper we reserve the right to edit, which in this case means removing comments that are vulgar or off topic.

Journalists agree that the future of this industry is online, but right now we are trying to figure out how that will all work.

After Thornburgh’s death, I cannot help but wonder what journalists of his generation would think of journalism today and what it means for an industry destined to be online only.

Emily Steele is a senior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].