Archive for the ‘Emerging Issues in Media & Communication’ Category

Is there a future for journalism? Are the declining advertising revenues and the declining readership (in particular for print) a glance at the slow death of our once dedicated 4th estate?

Part of the problem for present journalism is in the sentence above; “our once dedicated 4th estate”. Where did the dedication and persistency go? What happened to investigative journalism?  Our somewhat trustworthy public sphere? I feel that all the points here mentioned have been washed away in a digital mix of instancy, citizen-journalism, and personal opinions.

After smartphones and social media flourished it seems like journalists and the creative newsrooms found it too hard to follow and just gave up on their leading role as news reporters. Instead of coming up with a new innovative strategy of how to shape their business-model into one that suits the digital age, they sat back watching everyone else take over. If this attitude continues, there is no doubt that they will end up where book-shops, video-shops and photo-shops are today.

I am all for digital technology and the public’s right to take part in the news, but I still believe that some part of traditional journalism is needed for at least two reasons; ethics and quality control.

Tailoring of news on the basis of advertisement is annoying, but is it better with Google’s algorithms? Digital media is sorting the news to us in accordance with what we have previously shown an interest in, not according to what we ought to know and hear about. News should not only be about interests, but also about what is important for us to know.

Citizen journalism may be instant, but in regards to quality, how can we trust that what some citizen wrote from somewhere in the world is true? How can we know what is fictional, actual or manipulated? Journalists must follow certain codes of conduct which at least strengthen the trustworthiness of their news. Actually, their codes of conduct also enforce them to think ethical, a point that Pavlik (2013) suggests to be one principle necessary to include when considering innovative and sustainable journalism. How are witnesses protected by citizen journalists? “I promise not to provide a picture of you..Cross my heart”. News content comes in all shapes; comment-threads, geographically tagged photos, opinion pieces, videos and more, we need a code of conduct to ensure “strong and transparent privacy policies” (Pavlik 2013). Only traditional journalism can provide this (so far).

The problem is that we need journalism to pick up its backpack and take on the journey into the future of journalism. Be innovative, think outside the box and take the lead as reporters once again. Technology, the Internet and social media has so much to offer and for journalism there is much to be discovered.

The public sphere used to be defined as a place (often a coffee-shop) for men to sit down and rationally discuss the daily issues of concern; a place where each man would be heard and taken into account. This is a picture of democracy as it once was. But as time has passed our view of the world and our interpretation of what is common sense has changed too. Back then, men where the only thinkable characters to participate in politics, a woman with an opinion were considered ‘unladylike’ and unheard-off.

Today we find ourselves in an era where politics is everywhere and everyone is politics. We have passed the days when men where the only participants and we are now about to pass the days when the traditional press are the only ones with a legitimate right to voice and decide ‘what was the news today’. Propaganda (politicians) and selective news (traditional journalists) are being accompanied with an abundance of information coming from many different public spheres and it changes the ecosystem of the media. The 4th estate is not our one public sphere. There is a public sphere in reality shows, the school-yard, in the hospital’s waiting-room, online and everywhere our day-to-day concerns take place. These concerns are the politics of the public.

While journalists report their views of events, popular culture and now also the public produce content based on their interpretation of these events, and as Berkowitz says, all these ‘opinion’ mix and together they influence the audiences mind and play a role in shaping how the world works (2009).

Many would suggest that this enhances democracy as the public’s opinion becomes more evident, but when public opinion is infused by both traditional journalism and popular culture, we struggle to separate them. Teneboim-Weinblatt (2009) says that the countless different media-texts that we are exposed to are being utilized in various ways to “construct political meaning and identities” and this builds a new challenge in our media-ecosystem.

References:

Berkowitz, D 2009, ‘Journalism in the broader mediascape’, Journalism, vol. 10, no. 290, pp.290-292.

Teneboim-Weinblatt, K 2009, ‘”Where Is Jack Bauer When You Need Him?” The Uses of Television Drama in Mediated Political Discourse’, Political Communication, vol. 26, no. 4, pp.367-387.