Survey: Journalism is still important, even on the Internet

The changing landscape of news delivery has sparked some wars between traditional publications and online news outlets, especially those who aggregate stories written by the traditional guys and republish them online.Newspapers have taken a beating - layoffs have gone beyond widespread, papers have shut down completely and the quality of the stories has suffered.

The changing landscape of news delivery has sparked some wars between traditional publications and online news outlets, especially those who aggregate stories written by the traditional guys and republish them online.

Newspapers have taken a beating - layoffs have gone beyond widespread, papers have shut down completely and the quality of the stories has suffered. Some equate the demise of newspapers with the end of journalism.

Smartbrief, a technology company that compiles and distributes customized trade news to online subscribers, took a poll of the business leaders who subscribe to a daily e-mail newsletter, asking the question: Do you think the Internet has had a positive or negative impact on the quality of journalism?

Out of more than 1,500 responses, the "positive" votes offset the "negatives" - but not by much. (Click image for chart)

More than a quarter of the respondents  - 25.61 percent - selected positive because readers had access to more sources for cross-checking. By contrast, not quite a quarter - 23.94 percent - said it was negative because the easy access to publishing has given a voice to just about anyone - and that has resulted in a decline in quality.

Meanwhile, respondents said other positive effects were more perspectives and more news topics that get covered. On the negative side, they said the rush to break the story first makes for sloppy journalism and that unknown sources were hard to trust.

My takeaways: Quality journalism still matters and trusted providers of news are still ahead of the game. There's still an opportunity for those outlets to preserve their brand name equity. But as more online outlets come on board, meet the needs of the audience and build a reputation as a providers of quality content, there's reason for the traditional guys to worry.

Case in point: a Marketwatch piece with the headline, "Washington smackdown: Politico challenges the Post"

Also see: We're all aggregators. Get over it, AP.