Journalism will never be replaced by social interactions - will improve with it

Dec 28, 2012
social networks
Journalism adapts to social interactions, embracing collaboration and accountability amidst the challenges of technological advancements.
Scenarios of radical change are prolific in generating forecasts that later prove to be ridiculous. At the end of the 19th century, reigning scientism even suggested that all major discoveries had already been made by science. The turn of the millennium saw prophets of the apocalypse (as it had seen a thousand years before) and believers in the millennium bug, a global fraud that originated from journalist Nick Davies’ research, which became the book Flat Earth News. The debate around the transformations of today's journalism predicts darkness due to the disappearance of "quality" journalism in detriment of blogs and its extreme opposite, the absolute democratization of journalism with the takeover of the function by social networks. Such predictions confirm our certainty that we are experiencing an era of transformation, like the ones mentioned above.
The consolidation of social networks on a large scale certainly created tremendous noise for the aggregation of information. While they allow new flows of information, they create deafening noises that serve as false leads of what is really happening. Social zealots cannot see the obvious reality of the difficulty of accountability that information acquires in social networks. Journalists born and raised in traditional media react with fury to the unknown medium, much more out of insecurity than conviction. And so, the transition, which would not be simple in any way, gains absolutely unnecessary turbulence.
In a seminar in 2012, the Spanish journalist Concha García Campoy stressed the risk and the advantage of the new technology, noting that journalism will never be replaced by them. As Nelson Rodrigues would say, only geniuses see the obvious and thus, the Spanish woman's observation must have something genius about it. No matter how revolutionary they may be, technologies produce extraordinary things and tragedies because of the use that people give them. Social networks cannot replace the reflections of minds trained to decipher reality, as good journalists do (who do not necessarily have to have studied journalism or be professional journalists). To those who aspire to be journalists and present only their Twitter and Facebook logins as credentials, they play the role of the "digital suitcase", that inconvenient being who expresses his own futility by creating noise in the really necessary dialogue.
On the other hand, the informational tsunami of the web has great potential margins for collaboration. According to American journalist John Lee Anderson, journalism has stopped asking the hard questions, the result of a nebulous relationship between journalists and sources committed to power. Large companies have their own agenda and the needs of society often come second. The expansiveness and reach of social networks have great power in demanding this accountability, as among the media megacorporations, very rarely are entities capable and brave enough to challenge constituted power (whether governmental or not) found.
Amidst so many investments in the development of new technologies, one is more urgent than the others - that of creating tools that allow increasing the reliability of the information taken from large flows of information, or big data. The journalist is a curator of information and will continue to be, but he cannot lock himself in his tower of Babel and as before needs to go out into the world to better inform his reader. The performance of this role demands courage and flexibility on his part.
Postscriptum: 11 years later, the potential of social interactions to improve journalism is locked into platforms that monetize data to amass trillions. Journalism is now cornered by a war it cannot win alone. Innovation and leadership are the only weapons that can turn the tide in this game.

© Cassiano Gobbet 2023 - 2024