Difference between ‘Reporting in the Virtual World‘
the ‘Physical World’
By Fakiha Hassan Rizvi
This report will succinctly identify and explain the differences between reporting in the real world and in the virtual world. To test the differences, experience of reporting in both the cyberspace and physical world is presented. The differences are arranged in the themes of, data gathering, organizing the report, writing and publishing. Conclusion ascertains that differences lie mainly during the stages of ‘data gathering’ and ‘publishing’.
The report aims at identifying the major differences or divergence between data gathering, organization, writing and publishing, while reporting events in the real world (physical world) as opposed to Computer Assisted Reporting and Research through an online medium (virtual world).
Rose (1995) concisely describes the differences in the internet/virtual/cyberspace and the physical world by arguing that the Internet doesn’t host a ‘new set of population’. Whosoever uses the internet is also connected to the real world, somehow or the other. Consequently, the online providence of information reflects events in the real world. 
However, Susler (2001) justifies major differences between the virtual and real domains by taking the support of ‘Cyberpsychology‘. Internet is psychologically distinct due to its characteristics of ‘anonymity’, ‘variation in skill levels’, ‘absence of geographical boundaries’, ‘option to change appearance/identity that leads to deception. 
Kolodzy (2006) discussed the two reporting techniques in the context of ‘convergence’ that distinguished online news from the print medium by emphasising on ‘interactivity’, ‘hyper links‘ and ‘multimedia’, which allows online journalism to ‘guide’ and ‘tell’ more than any other medium of communication. 
Dueze (1998) mentions that the online reporting of events is more complex as; 
He presented a model for online journalism in 2003, explaining that online reports leave more room for dialogue between the reporter and the reader, it is instrumental and concentration is centred upon ‘public connectivity’. On the other hand, traditional journalism concentrates editorial content through orientation and monitoring. 
Conclusively, the Cyberspace reporter is the creator and controller of the content, with the luxury of ‘self-publishing’ at his or her disposal. The traditional reporter is bound to follow the editorial policies of the news agency/print media outlet that he/she is working for.
Dueze’s model for online journalism:
Web Journalism: The Use of Blogs as tools for Reporting
Although social interest networks like Facebook, information network like Twitter, simple html websites and blogs, all are potential reporting tools in the virtual world. However, the report focuses on ‘Blogs’ only.
In 2009, the executive director of Committee to Protection Journalists, Joel Simon, said that “bloggers are at the vanguard of the information revolution and their numbers are expanding rapidly”. The Royal Pingdom (a forum that looks at the uptime-monitoring needs of 90% of the companies in the world) estimated that 70 million WordPress blogs shall be created by the end of 2011. In March 2012, the ‘nielsenwire’ reported that over 181 million blogs have been tracked around the world. The exponential rise in blogging is followed by citizen or participatory journalism, especially in countries where traditional media fails to present the views of the masses.
A specialist blogger (trained journalist having a blog of his/her own) applies the journalistic practices and values like objectivity, fairness, balance, coherence and news norms, such as timeliness, human interest, proximity, unusual nature, conflict, impact and helpfulness.
On the other hand, an undifferentiated blogger (not specializing in the field of Journalism) is likely to deviate from the journalistic norms. A citizen blogger may provide a highly subjective account, owing to some of the limitations and personal bias, while reporting an event.
Consequently, after content itself, it is the presentation of the content in the online report that counts. The presentation is likely to differ, according to the bloggers skill and familiarity with standard journalistic techniques of reporting.
Experience: to Test the Differences
The experience of covering a seminar in the real world and the one that was mediated through a video clip on ‘vimeo’ can give a clear view of the points at which a Cyberspace reporter and Earthly Reporter diverge.
Reporting in the Physical World:
A seminar to be reported in the real world is likely to follow this pattern:
Problems that influence reporting:
The tape recorder might not record properly as reporter is a participant, he/she is part of the audience. The hiss and noise in that setting is likely to obstruct the reporters concentration. This was removed by appointing two reporters so that points missed by the other could have been covered.
All the speakers weren’t available at the end of the session. The reporter had no other choice than to miss out details that were to be confirmed from those speakers, instead of misreporting them.
A photograph was taken by another participant at the event for the report.
Reporting in the Virtual World:
A cyberspace reporter is likely to follow this pattern:
The highlighted differences represent the distinction between a Cyberspace reporter and an Earthly Reporter. Note that both the events were more or less similar, but the reporting processes of data gathering and publishing differed in both the worlds.
 Rose (1995) Net Law: Your Right in the Online World
 Axelrod (2009) Violence goes to the Internet: Avoiding the snare of the net, Charles C Thomas Publisher
 Kolodzy (2006) Convergence Journalism: Writing and Reporting Across the News Media, Rowman & Littlefield.
 Veglis & Siapera (2012), The Handbook of Global Online Journalism, John Wiley & Sons.
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