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2009年考研英语时文阅读及翻译之报纸的消亡

黄涛   2008-11-25 11:14 【 】【我要纠错
报纸的消亡
英语的消亡
   

  In future, as newspaper fade and change, will politicians therefore burgle their opponents' offices with impunity, and corporate villains whoop as they trample over their victims?Journalism schools and think-tanks, especially in America, are worried about the effect of a crumbling Fourth Estate. Are today's news organizations up to the task of sustaining the informed citizenry on which democracy depends asked a recent report about newspapers from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, a charitable research foundation.

  Nobody should relish the demise of once-great titles. But the decline of newspapers will not be as harmful to society as some fear. Democracy, remember, has already survived the huge television-led decline in circulation since the 1950s. It has survived as readers have shunned papers and papers have shunned what was in stuffier times thought of as serious news. And it will surely survive the decline to come.

  That is partly because a few titles that invest in the kind of investigative stories which often benefit society the most are in a good position to survive, as long as their owners do a competent job of adjusting to changing circumstances. Publications like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal should be able to put up the price of their journalism to compensate for advertising revenues lost to the internet——especially as they cater to a more global readership. As with many industries, it is those in the middle——neither highbrow, nor entertainingly populist——that are likeliest to fall by the wayside.

  The usefulness of the press goes much wider than investigating abuses or even spreading general news; it lies in holding governments to account——trying them in the court of public opinion. The internet has expanded this court. Anyone looking for information has never been better equipped. People no longer have to trust a handful of national papers or, worse, their local city paper. News-aggregation sites such as Google News draw together sources from around the world. The website of Britain's Guardian now has nearly half as many readers in America as it does at home.

  In addition, a new force of citizen journalists and bloggers is itching to hold politicians to account. The web has opened the closed world of professional editors and reporters to anyone with a keyboard and an internet connection. Several companies have been chastened by amateur postings——of flames erupting from Dell's laptops or of cable TV repairmen asleep on the sofa. Each blogger is capable of bias and slander, but, taken as a group, bloggers offer the searcher after truth boundless material to chew over. Of course, the internet panders to closed minds; but so has much of the press.

  For hard-news reporting——as opposed to comment——the result of net journalism have admittedly been limited. Most bloggers operate from their armchairs, not the frontline, and citizen journalist tend to stick to local matters. But it is still early days. New online models will spring up as papers retreat. One non-profit group, New Assignment.Net, plans to combine the work of amateurs and professionals to produce investigative stories on the internet. Aptly, $10,000 of cash for the project has come from Craig Newmark, of Craigslist, a group of free classified-advertisement websites that has probably done more than anything to destroy newspapers' income.

  In future, argues Carnegie, some high-quality journalism will also be backed by non-profit organizations. Already, a few respected news organizations sustain themselves that way——including the Guardian, the Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio. An elite group of serious newspapers available everywhere online, independent journalism backed by charities, thousands of fired-up bloggers and well-informed citizen journalists: there is every sign that Arthur Miller's national conversation will be louder than ever.

  将来,随着报纸的消失和变化,政客们会撬窃对手的办公室而不受惩罚吗?公司恶棍会欢呼着践踏受害者的权益吗?尤其是在美国,各个新闻学院和智囊机构对报业新闻消亡带来的后果忧心忡忡。慈善研究机构纽约Carnegie Corporation 最近一份关于报纸的报告质问:如今的新闻机构“是否能够完成向作为民主制度基石的公民提供全面信息的任务?”

  谁也不应该对曾经伟大的报纸的消亡感到高兴。但是,报纸的衰落并不会像一些人所担心的那样对社会造成极大的危害。不要忘记,20世纪50年代以来民主制度已经经受了报纸销量因电视出现而大幅下滑的考验。当读者避开报纸,报纸避开了在保守时代被认为是严肃新闻的东西时,民主仍然存活下来。那么它也一定能经受住即将到来的报纸的衰落。

  部分原因是,少数花本钱做那种通常给社会带来最大益处的调查性新闻报道的大报,只要其所有者能够很好地适应变化的环境,就不用担心生存问题。像《纽约时报》,《华尔街日报》这样的出版物,应该能够提高报纸的价格,以弥补广告业务流向网络造成的收入损失——尤其是当读者更具全球性时。像许多行业一样,那些处于中间地位的报纸——既没有很高的文化品位,又没有娱乐性的大众口味——最容易被淘汰。

  报纸的作用远远超出了调查舞弊,甚至传播消息,其作用在于监督政府承担责任——在公共舆论的法庭中审判他们。网络扩大了这个法庭。任何寻找信息的人从来没有像现在这样方便。人们不必再相信少数几个全国性大报纸,或者更糟糕的是,他们本地的城市报纸。像“谷歌新闻”这样的专门的新闻网站收集了世界各地的新闻来源。英国《卫报》网站在美国的读者几乎是在英国本土的一半。

  另外,公民“记者”和博客组成的新力量正跃跃欲试地要监督政治家负起责任。网络为任何一个有键盘和网络连接的人打开了职业编辑和新闻记者的封闭世界。有些公司已受到业余爱好者的发帖指责,这些帖子指控戴尔手提电脑会着火,或者指控有线电视维修员在沙发上睡大觉。每个博客都有可能抱有偏见和说些诽谤性的话,但是作为整体,博客们为寻找真相的人们提供了大量值得仔细琢磨的材料。当然,网络会迎合闭塞僵死的思想,但是更多报纸也是如此。

  就与评论相比的硬新闻而言,网络新闻的成效显然有限。多数博客是在自己的椅子上写作,而不是在新闻前线,而且公民记者倾向于只关注本地事件。但它仍然处于初期阶段。随着报纸的退却,新的在线模式将迅速涌现。一个非赢利网络团体“新闻工作网”计划把业余记者和专业记者联合起来,在网络上推出调查性新闻报道。克雷格新闻组(一个免费分类广告网站集团)的创办人克雷格纽马克给“新闻工作网”及时地捐赠了一万美金。该网站集团作得最多的可能就是损害报纸的收入。

  卡内基认为,将来一些高质量的新闻也会得到非赢利机构的支持。几家有影响的新闻机构已经靠此方式生存,包括《卫报》,《基督教科学箴言报》和美国国家公共电台。一些严肃的精英报纸都有网络版,世界各地都可以阅读,独立的新闻报道得到慈善机构、成千上万的热心博客和消息灵通的公民记者的支持。这一切完全表明,阿瑟米勒的全国性交谈会比以前声音更响。

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