lunes, 14 de marzo de 2011
What is journalism? How would you define a journalist?
Traditionally, these questions were fairly easy to answer, because everybody had pretty much the same concept of what journalism was, as well as a journalist. The first term could have been defined as the action of informing people about what was happening around the world: in our local town, in our nation, or in a far away country; and the second one, as the people who actually carried out that action. They were the ones who worked on the radio, on TV, or writing in a newspaper.
But in the recent years things have changed a lot with the emerging of new technologies, especially with the Internet. This has become a new type of media; and I am not just speaking about digital newspapers, but about blogs and social networks, like twitter or facebook, where you can also get informed. Here is where our problem comes out; can this be considered journalism? Can the people who write or publish information by using these tools be treated as real journalists?
There is diversity of opinions relating to this issue. On the one hand, we have people who think we can, arguing that even though they may not be professionals and have not studied that career, as well as they do not work in a concrete media, they are just doing the same thing, and in many cases maybe they are doing it really well; on the other hand there are people who say we can´t, and that they ought to be considered “participatory journalists”.
And again, here we find ourselves in trouble. Why should we call them “participatory journalists” and not just journalists? What is then “participatory journalism”? Well, in the first chapter of the book “We Media”, it is defined as “the act of a citizen, or group of citizens, playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information. The intent of this participation is to provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information that a democracy requires”. Hoping things are a bit clearer now, I will proceed to explain my point of view.
After reading this definition, I understand participatory journalism and the work of participatory journalists as an act of democracy and freedom of expression, but never as a substitute of the traditional journalists who work in the media, and that have been prepared for that task. By means of this, I am not saying that the information we find in blogs or social networks isn´t useful and reliable, because a big part of it actually is, but it is not the same. For example, if I wanted to know about the earthquake and the tsunami that have just hit Japan this past weekend, I would go and read the newspaper or watch the news, but I would definitely not have a blog as my first source of information, because the professionalism of the media makes them more trustful to me.
But as I have already said, this is just a personal opinion in an ocean of diversity. The debate is still open.