Getting up to date with data

Daily concerns about the general trust Western societies have in institutions such as the mainstream media, about the declining of amounts of newspaper copies and the continuing rising stars of powerful newsplatforms such as Facebook and their data and algorithms make me think: are we losing track of our own profession as journalists?

As Lewis and Westlund (2015) point out journalists still see reporting as their main professional activity. Furthermore, recent research in the field of journalism still speaks of journalists who participate in so called ‘tech journalism’ (‘news nerds’) and so implies that there are journalists who don’t. Also, Ferrucci (2017) conducted a survey on the differences between veterans in journalism and newcomers in journalism. Veterans (working ten plus years in the media industry) still see traditional reporting as the key value of good journalism, according to the survey.

Journalists still see reporting as their main professional activity

With this strong emphasis on reporting as the most important task of their profession, journalists seem to be getting behind in the development of their own working field: the media. According to Caplan and Boyd (2016) one way to get control over the power of algorithms and the often manipulative business behind it, is to make everybody – not only engineers or ‘news nerds’ – familiar with the technique and more important the ethics involved in digital media productions.

It’s time for a new generation of digital native journalists to step up

Since the majority of editors-in-chief at for example the big Dutch newspapers and quality magazines are so called veterans, there is a great risk of keeping the convictions of what is good journalism focused too much on the practices of traditional reporting. It’s time for a new generation of digital native journalists to step up and help journalism be up to date with itself again.

References

Caplan, R., & Boyd, D. Who Controls the Public Sphere in an Era of Algorithms. Data&Society (2016).

Ferrucci, P. Are you Experienced? How years in field affects digital journalists’ perceptions of a changing industry. Journalism Studies (2017), 1-16.

Lewis, S., & Westlund, O. Actors, Actants,
Audiences, and Activities in Cross-Media News
Work. Digital Journalism 3(1) (2015), 19-37.

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