The growing democratization of technologies (we insist, it is going to be relative, there are lots of people in the world without even access to television) has set up one of the greatest contemporary myths: “conventional” journalism. The professional one is heading toward disappearance. Why do we need a newspaper if people may have access to immediate information thanks to social networks?
Furthermore, anyone can be “journalist” and posts notes and opinions from the comforts of their cell phones without the mediation (or “censorship”) of an editor. “Citizen journalism. That is the future,” claim some that are not even sure about the concept.
Certainly, the social networks and all the Internet universe have greatly affected traditional patterns of journalism, fueling the crisis in some of its routines and practices. That is a fact we cannot ignore. The communicational models are now much more complex and the relative hegemony of the information network falter before the appearance of new models and way to access news.
Internet and its social networks are the agora of contemporaneity with the peculiarity that it is not possible to measure their immediate impact as their interconnections are uncountable. It is the agora of millions. The complexity to set hierarchies and reach consensus will be then understood.
Mass media, privileged space for traditional journalism, should aim to have an impact on social networks dynamics as well. They need to be there and nourished by them. It means to find ways to approach the news better and deal with them. Not to mention it also implies a formal challenge: they need to adapt to certain wordings and find new ways to present the new narrative.
The media will never win the war of the competence for immediacy (if it is assumed as competence) unless journalists themselves become witness first hand of events (which is very difficult due to the wide spectrum of fronts and sources).
However, there are aspects where professional journalism has clear advantage: accuracy, veracity, comprehensive vision, fact-checking, depth of analysis, professional assessment, work ethics, commitment to the public, rigor, creative writing…
These are the keys in the need for journalism, understood as professional activity.
In times of overwhelming flood of information, the media have (should have) the ability to process such a torrent and set hierarchies, define subjects of common interest, have influence on the public opinion, advance agendas, offer arguments, and remain trustworthy sources…
Journalism need to remain a beacon, now more than ever.
Public policies cannot ignore the chaos in Internet. It is paramount to standardize it based on the universal principles and guaranteeing the citizens’ right. But the access to a truthful information is also an inalienable right. That is the goal of journalism, Hence the need of a practice with high quality standards, coherent, ethical, and committed to the common good.
Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff