18 nov From journalism to contextualism
Is journalism still a profession or the hobby of many? And if so, what can we do to improve the status, the credibility and the impact of real journalists?
What is journalism if everybody can pretend to be a journalist? If the social media allow almost every story and every picture to reach the world? If the public can be less sure than ever whether what it reads and sees is true or manipulated?
I suggest to agree that professional journalists are those eager to bring news to the public. If possible news that is balanced and that has been checked and double checked; news that is necessary to know, not only nice to know. News that makes us think, discuss, decide, change. News, in other words, that is relevant for our life and our points of view.
We live in the age of almost total transparancy. Everybody can reach everybody, check on everybody, influence everybody. Transparancy means that we are more vulnerable than ever when it comes to our privacy, our convictions and our culture.
The natural human tendency to imitate the other, instead of cultivating one’s own, means that we are in danger of becoming one, global culture, uniform in order to be safe and invisible, instead of individual and free, and I fear we are also –more than ever- open to manipulators and populists. Transparency not only opens the world to citizen journalists, it also opens the world to more control, more power for the authorities and more risk for the professional journalists. This means that journalists have to show more creativity and cleverness.
The world has never been an easy place for good, objective and credible journalism. But good journalists are the only ones who can guarantee that we, the people, stay informed in order for us to react, to stand up, to create revolutions, to change the world and make it a better place.
We must therefore defend the independency and integrety of journalism at all costs.
Making news is a state of mind, in a way even an art. Journalists defy the authorities because it is their job to do so. Our times are difficult with the big brothers watching, but also inviting. Inviting to create new ways to communicate the truth, via metaphors, games, experiences, stories and much more. Maybe it is even time to change the language around journalism. ‘’Journal’’ is not exactly what the modern times ask for. Most papers and magazines are moving to the internet. Many publishers are thinking about new ways to distribute what they used to put into words. I suggest that we create the words contextualism and contextualists: the ones who put the news into a context, in order to help the public to understand, why? How? In relation to what? Maybe we need more explanation, more background, more analysis, more layers to discover. We certainly need organization and structure to be able to give sense to the informatuon we receive. Information has to be served in a way that it becomes useful, that it becomes knowledge…
The high speed world around us, tends to make us superficial consumers of fast food news. We may have to change from effect journalism into slow journalism, or should I say contextualism. Journalists need new references, new vocabulary and above all they need to stay one step ahead of the authorities when it comes to using the web. It is journalism against dictatorship through knowledge and speed.
Although I applaud coitizen journalism, I believe we need more analysts, organized knowledge, wise observers who put events into historical and actual context and truly reliable sources of what is relevant and new.