The plea for quality in journalism is a futile resource for sore losers
Nov 10, 2012
A hipocrisia do jornalismo e a perda de qualidade em meio à ascensão digital e financeirização das empresas.
Editorials, particularly those of traditional media and large journalistic conglomerates, unite almost unanimously in a cry against the death of quality journalism, allegedly murdered by the "theft" of revenues by the digital world and by "pseudo-journalism" conducted on social networks. Despite the fact that there is no shortage of content labelled as journalism that is nothing more than a feedback loop of information, two questions undermine the supposed heroic outcry in defense of good journalism. Firstly, if the class and companies value quality journalism so much, why did the space for investigative journalism plummet starting in the 90s (long before the digital rise)? And why is the complaint about poor quality journalism only emerging now, long after the onset of the reduction of editorial offices, overwork of professionals, and exploitation of the same in more than one media? The cry for quality coming from journalists is nothing more than a selfish and late unionist flash. Journalism did not lose its identity. The professional journalist did, and a long time ago. But railing against social media is pointless. To regain dignity and pride, it is necessary to see in the turmoil an impetus and not a threat.
The statement by journalist Benjamin Hernandez that journalism is dazzled by technology is not only significant, but extremely common among journalists. There is some confusion (voluntary or not) on the part of the professional journalist about the definition of what is journalism and what is said to be journalism. The professional journalist coming from traditional media tends to fight the two as if they were the same thing, in a mix of ignorance and fear.
Yes, there is a lot of pseudo-journalism being done in the name of "modernity" and it confuses engagement and popularity (i.e. pageviews, views, shares, etc). Not every viral video is journalism just as a person with obsessive compulsive disorder who tweets wildly is not a journalist because they create a large flow of information. But the contribution of technology to journalism is not limited to this - and even this can be used, as long as it is processed within the tools that manage big data. On the other hand, the ability to handle information has grown to such a point that it is possible to monitor the mood of the markets according to information flows on Twitter and Facebook. Anyone who says that this cannot be relevant has a serious evaluation problem.
The reach of journalists has also come to unimaginable proportions with crowdsourcing tools, for example. No news agency in the world could have broken the news of the death of Osama bin Laden as quickly as the user Sohaib Athar announced the attack on Osama's hideout on Twitter because not everything happens where the agencies send correspondents.
It is true that Norman Mailer or Gay Talese could have written richer texts than Athar's tweet, but it is also true that the public has not been losing confidence in the press for several years just because more amateurs entered the process. Considering what is "quality" in journalism is extremely debatable and, for example, some covers given by the most important news magazines in Brazil for many years are worthy of the most shameful sensationalist media - and journalism did not rise in chorus against this.
The main point is left aside here. There is a process of increasing financialization of journalistic companies and they have long abandoned quality journalism. However, now, as the water is reaching the neck given the fragmentation of the audience and revenues, journalists and corporations use "quality" as a validator of their complaints, but this is pure hypocrisy. A similar example happened with the cinemas in Brazil. For decades, they refused to show independent and national productions because they made little money, preferring the certain income of American blockbusters. With the invasion of foreign supercinema networks, they began to define themselves as "defenders of quality and variety". It was the same opportunistic rhetoric.
As I never tire of saying here, there are several companies and projects that aim to give these immense flows of information to the hands of journalists, something that would give an absurd power to the ability to cover, plurality and reach of coverages. Only they do not combine with monopolies, which are what corporations and working classes really defend. Thus, the crying is unlikely to help anything. And for the first time hypocrisy should be inefficient in achieving results.