The internet has changed the world significantly in the past few years for all of us.  It is the new magic eight ball.  Even better because it often gives us a definitive answer.  This is also true for the world of journalism and the journalists who write the stories that inform the planet.

It certainly has changed how people get the news.  Most people get their news from the internet.  Fewer and fewer people actually buy a hard copy newspaper.  It is probably only the local papers that really have much value here.  The local beat is covered by the local beat writer.  You even might see a small local event advertised in it.  You may not necessarily go looking to see if there is a dog walk at the community park, but you could accidently come across it in the local news.

This is a smaller and smaller reading experience nowadays.  The internet is where it is at for the news.  Yet is also the new critical tool for the journalist.  Background and fact checks can be done in seconds on your laptop or tablet. Social media can give you instantaneous, on the spot insights into something.  It can even be something trivial.  During Hurricane Sandy, with all the power outages we suffered through, it was through Facebook that you could find out on your smart phone if the mall was open.  That little fact probably kept some people from going crazy.

Again, this is a tiny interaction of the news, the internet and the journalist.  The internet gives us real time updates and real time background on a story.  You can google to confirm something or discover insights into your story very quickly and comfortably.

However the internet does not replace the job of the journalist.  The journalist must still get to the site of the story.  The journalist must interview people to be able to tell the story.  While Facebook and Twitter can give you some idea of which direction the story should go, the journalist must make sense of it all.  Twitter is like fireflies drawing your attention, but the journalist must see beyond the small pinpricks of light to gauge the landscape of the story.

The internet is a tremendous asset to the journalist.  However, journalists must keep in mind it is just a tool, although a powerful one.  The more important tools are their probing questions and their notes to give the story its proper due.