Originality and the Internet

I was listening to this article on NPR this morning and a statement was made about advanced journalism students failing to recognize the importance of “on the ground” journalists like Woodward and Bernstein in the uncovering and breaking of big news stories.  The idea presented by Tina Brown in the NPR spot had students believing they could look up news on the Internet rather than interview people and do the hard work of investigative journalism.  It got me thinking about my, and in general, our, use of the Internet, and what we find when we Google a word or phrase.

I’m a big fan of Wikipedia, and I use both traditional (Wall Street Journal, The Economist, NPR) and new (Slate, The Beast — although that’s just Newsweek in another guise) sources to learn about what’s happening in the world.  I use an iPad to access this information (I characterize the iPad as the greatest media delivery system invented so far) and enjoy both breaking news and “magazine” style articles including movie and book reviews.  I read with an open mind, but I’m also skeptical that not everything posted on the web is the TRUTH.

The question is: where does all this Internet material come from?  Is it all just recycled from other internet sources–if so, then where’s the chicken and where’s the egg?  Obviously there must be some external source of information from which the Internet, repackager and recycler though it is, gets the basic information.  An interesting consequence of this would determine what percentage of material on the internet is original, and how much is regurgitated.  I’d guess the latter outweighs the former by a large margin.