Journalism, coding and IT are now sitting together in the newsroom (or they should)

Jan 17, 2013
Journalism's Evolution: Integration of Coding, IT, and Newsroom blurs Roles, Challenges Publications, and Empowers Audience.
One day, the role of the journalist was to inform, and that of the newspaper was to publish that information. Likely, the first periodicals to run under the then recent presses were idealized by Gutenberg. A little over four centuries later, journalism is immersed in its most significant structural reformulation, and this distinction of the functions of both has become blurred. Publications and journalists have been subjected to a structural mutation that will leave behind those who do not want to adapt.
There is no iconoclasm in the observation. Journalists still have to inform, and publications still increase the reach of that content, but the two verbs gained unprecedented dimensions not too long ago. The use of social media tools and other digital tools have achieved almost instantaneous access to almost everywhere. Newspapers and magazines today can put live image feeds on their websites or apps at a very low cost. The influx of possibilities brought a price to professionals and media.
Understanding the fact and reporting it has become only part of the professional's responsibility, who now has to react to it in real time and react to his audience's reaction to his reaction. In addition, the exponential increase in the number of sources forces the narrator to make his motives and prejudices much clearer, because the public now knows where the winds are blowing. The relationship has undoubtedly become more problematic, harsh, and totally uncontrollable, depending on the number of interlocutors.
The role of publications has become even more complex. The clear relationship of supplier and consumer has been erased forever. The biggest problem that companies encounter today is recovering decreasing revenues, as the four-century-old task of informing for a price has gained competitors - thousands, sometimes millions of them - that charge little or nothing in direct terms. But in the long run, the difficulty with which publications will have to deal with is to have some control over the interference of people who were known as the audience on the product they produced and sold alone. This is probably the most difficult change among those that companies will have to face, because, besides the cultural change (which very rarely is not generational), previously if before they served themselves and their need to optimize profit, now, they need to deal with a series of other protagonists.
Under this aspect, publications of all kinds can anticipate events to start playing a new role, that of creating tools to make available to the audience that consumes large blocks of information, such as ProPublica does in the United States, in one of these projects, made available to readers/researchers all the files of American election spending for scrutiny. ProPublica will have access to a gigantic amount of information gathered by the very audience that will consume it in the end. The excellent Matthew Ingram observed some of the lessons raised from the Free The Files lesson, such as rallying a legion of volunteers and "gamifying" the processes, turning them into tasks with rankable results, to stimulate a stimulus through competition.
The function today fulfilled by ProPublica has few adherents beyond the Guardian, but it will be the rule of media in the long term. Newspapers and magazines have to add audiences to their production process by creating innovative and intelligent tools to chew on large, immense amounts of public but unordered information. Given a large enough amount of time, few companies will continue to offer excellent content made in a journalistic bubble, none of them being a mass publication operating in a democratic society. In the long run, publications and media in general tend to organize large communities, in a kind of information hive, where a long, massive, and meticulous work goes through the hands of several individuals until it originates the final product. This is exactly why technology companies seem to have gained an advantage in such a short time and only journalistic companies investing in this give the feeling of being able to keep up.
Today to venture this possibility still sounds a bit like science fiction because traditional media is still at the center of activities in our society and as McLuhan said, no medium supplants the following with something completely new, but mimics from "originals" that are the very medium supplanted (just like radio metabolized the newspaper and how TV metabolized radio). But looking at the speed of events in the last five or ten years, it is even less realistic to imagine that the speed of changes will decrease.

© Cassiano Gobbet 2023 - 2024