Journalism first and foremost, should be informative and engaging – fact based certainly, but in no way boring. You should as a reader, want to get to the end of the sentence, end of the paragraph and indeed – end of the piece. Now I know we are all human, we have our favourites; whether that be newspaper providers and the type of writing included in that or the glossy magazine or indeed website. I think journalism has done well for the most part in spreading itself across different mediums but everything changed simply because it had to, when social media came into the playing field.
Newspapers on social media. Did we ever think we’d see the day when the Irish Times or the Guardian would be updating their current Facebook status? Well it’s here and we just have to get on it. The good thing about social media is that it’s interactive and various views can come into play in the comments section (if you’ve the time to read it all). The bad part of this can be the lack of filter there and it’s hard to tell what is worth reading, as that is no longer defined.
Instead, we must use independent thought to decide what is worth spending our time on, as it’s not all set out in front of us in a newspaper style. The question of funding here is up for constant debate as although advertising is still a relatively good foundation for a paper, actually paying for the quality of journalism with limited resources puts extra pressure on editors to make sure they’re surrounded by fellow quality journalists and not just “content creators” to make money off simplified masked content.
Now, I know that there’s a place for entertainment and opinion based pieces in media, as there is a demand there to be met and people who are very skilled at creating this. But I think branching this kind of media as “fake news” is something completely outrageously wrong. These styles of media are new and growing and although they’re not what we might call traditional, they’ve earned their place for the moment.
I feel that journalists work for the people as the messengers and if the people want these light news pieces, somebody has to be there to provide it. Although they want this kind of content, they also need the factual news based journalism as well that should not be forgotten about. To be well rounded, you must take samples and engage with various types of news and journalistic styles. Sure, find what suits you but don’t completely ignore everything else that’s going on around you.
I will say as well, just like you hold your elected politicians to account, hold your journalists and newspapers to account also. We speak about the power of people power and this can be true of journalism as well. I will admit that journalists can make mistakes, often quickly corrected by themselves, their editor or even a fellow colleague but I would advise that the public be on alert too. This will allow you to play out your full potential as an engaged citizen with the free press.
Quality can be sometimes hard to find when social media is ruling the roost. But I think journalism can be found that’s clear, concise, non-biased and fact based if you’re willing to
give it the time. Look to the sources of the news provider or even follow the journalist to get another impression for yourself. I can tell you that journalists have the audience in mind when they are writing and we want to know what your impression is of the work we are doing. So please, don’t hold back and hold us to account.
I think that we can all agree that we need journalism and we need it to be done in the right way for everyone to benefit from. So let’s not start digging our own grave, not just yet.