Social networks are a crucial tool for journalists (but carries risks)
Jun 28, 2011
Social media amplifies voices and risks for journalists, but also offers opportunities for engagement and information sharing, according to a Pew report.
"This story of readers wanting to have an opinion is annoying. Readers should only be allowed to write to say they liked it." This opinion was given to me by a luminary of journalism, one of the best texts I have ever known. Yes, a professional from another era, but a journalist in the best sense of the word. His observation, however, is an assumption that 99% of journalists privately hold and do not have the courage to admit. But this gain in voice for readers is not bad. It can improve the journalist's work.
First, let's make a parenthesis: it is undeniable that the amount of nonsense and nonsense to which social networks and other connection tools have exposed us are of cosmic dimensions. But barbarism and human decay did not start with Mark Zuckerberg. The reasoning capability of the average citizen is frustratingly disappointing. "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." The observation is by Winston Churchill, before Hitler's rise to power. People have not liked to think for a long time. But there are many people capable of thinking and separating the wheat from the chaff, given that we are six billion on this chaotic and self-destructive planet, even if in the minority, the focus of lucidity still exists. And thanks to the revolution in communication, they can reach us.
A report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project helps understand this. After speaking with more than 2,000 American users, the study drew a profile of the social network member and outlined characteristics that give hope even to journalists desperate with the amount of feedback worthy of a drugged mollusk as well as the fear that their function in society drains down the drain. The basic conclusion is that being connected can help a lot in the role of information gatekeeper.
The journalist feels - and is, throughout history - responsible for telling society what is happening. This is one of the few awards that the career offers, since journalists who get rich in the profession almost always have stopped being journalists (although sometimes they are in denial about this). Thus, the growth of the role of the reader/common user in the agora of information caused journalists and media to grunt in relation to the risks they present to democracy. Corporate fear is understandable, but unnecessary. Social media and the like are not a danger. The Pew report reveals that social media users are more open to different opinions, are more reliable with regard to their own opinions, are more politically engaged and so on. These users - whose "population" has doubled in the last three years - are also more exposed to news, opinions and media action as a whole.
For good journalism, those whose precepts do not change, the risks have certainly increased. Irresponsible and sensationalist opinion makers have greatly amplified their voice (a bombshell, true or not, circulates much faster than a pondered opinion), it is easier to spread a rumor today than ten or twenty years ago and with an infinitely greater number of experts, the good journalist needs much more time to establish himself - and sometimes, not even with all the time in the world, will he succeed, while the "informative scoundrel" can boost his career - and financial gains - meteorically. It is, however, a technological adjustment to which people will take time to get used to, but in the end, it will define what kind of professional society wants. If a society decides it prefers liars, fraudsters, irresponsible and talkative, it will pay a price for it. More civilized societies will certainly make the right choice, not because they are better, but because it is a mechanism of self-preservation. Even in an increasingly irrational society, it is from this society that power emanates, and the Pew report (which is worth a read) indicates that it is easier to know what people think with computerized social connection.