The World - Still - Need Journalists
Jun 20, 2011
The Vital Role of Journalism in the Technological Era: Differentiating Journalists from Bloggers and the Responsibility to Disseminate Information of Interest and Relevance.
In an interview given to Deutsche Welle, the president of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Joel Simon, reaffirmed the need society has for journalists and established a line dividing journalists and bloggers that goes far beyond the pathetic useless diploma sold by some schools. "Bloggers can be journalists, but they are not always." Citizen Journalism is a farce when it pretends to say that anyone who writes is a journalist, but not when it says that anyone can be - especially with the help of technology.
Simon is a long-time advocate of blogs as a journalistic tool and may have overdone it at the beginning of the tool's era, but he himself adapted to reality by observing that new tools (like Facebook or Twitter) can be equally relevant. Simon's observation is fundamental to divide what most people like to think: that by writing anything, one becomes a journalist (as well as working in a media outlet or attending a school that, in the case of Brazil, graduates functional illiterates). "In its most basic form, journalists are people who disseminate information of interest and relevance to the public," Simon defined. He adds that there is no need for a license for this, but it is not enough to write to be a journalist.
The technological revolution that opened the profession to absolutely anyone is the nightmare of large corporations that had their audience guaranteed by concessions, large structures and tradition. These large corporations played a major role in delimiting the space of journalism in the most advanced societies (even if that meant a lot of trash like sensationalist tabloids, Big Brothers and ex-whatever who assume journalism as a new function after ending any career). In societies where this tradition does not exist, the role of the journalist is the most vital for society as a whole, see cases of Syria, Iraq and other Arab countries under repression.
The role of society's caretaker is inherent to journalism, although the function no longer belongs to a professional group, suggesting what might be one of the first professions in society that break free from corporatism (like doctors and lawyers, for example, who keep criminals in their ranks to ensure immunity conceived in college). "A journalist's own, first of all, is to see." And, once seen, to say what he saw. (...) For from the journalist is not required to build but what it is proper for him to build: a well-informed, attentive, vigilant, enlightened public opinion." The definition of Carlos Lacerda (whose definition of the profession is very appropriate, although it is cursed because of his conservative political stance to the core). The role of this caretaking has become that of any citizen, as it is fair to be, although the merit of the function is still linked to tiring and psychologically burdensome practices that very few have the capacity to bear.