The future is now

The public is that group of consumers or citizens who care about the forces that shape their lives and want someone to monitor and report on those forces so that they can act on that knowledge. – Emily Bell’s rigorous definition of ‘the public.’

The future is now. Many of the changes talked about in the last decade as part of the future landscape of journalism have already taken place; much of journalism’s imagined future is now its lived-in present. (Bell 2007) We are adapting to a world where the audience are no longer just passive readers and viewers, but they are users and publishers. Over the last few years journalism has seen the introduction of many new techniques. But, as Bell (2007) puts it: Merely bolting on a few new techniques will not be enough to adapt to the changing ecosystem; taking advantage of access to individuals, crowds and machines will mean changing organizational structure as well.

A small start up that has tackled the traditional organisational structure completely, is TRAC FM. This free, cloud based software platform uses radio and SMS in Uganda to track citizen reports and collect citizen feedback. In this case the public is given an active role in the production of news. Basically, they are the ones monitoring and reporting on themselves. It’s a strong technique for collecting data and engaging citizens, it provides an opportunity for local NGO’s to perform fact driven data journalism. A weakness would be, that this also provides a gateway for anyone to spread ‘useless’ or ‘fake’ information. And thus, fake news, stays one of journalism’s biggest threats.

Liese Molenaar

References:

Bell, Emily 2007: “The Future: Journalism and Media as Post-Industries” – Tow center for digital journalism.

TRAC FM 2010

Wordcount: 268

Ciao, Manhattan.

In the past year, three of the most revered independent news outlets in NYC were put to a brutal end, and their archives deleted immediately. Publisher and CEO Joe Ricketts seemingly suddenly and unilaterally made this decision.

Billionaire Ricketts shut DNAinfo and Gothamist (sites) down after an attempt to unionize. Regarding the former, he said, “DNAinfo is, at the end of the day, a business, and businesses need to be economically successful if they are to endure.” (Leland and Newman)

This came shortly after The Village Voice shuttered its print edition much to the chagrin of New Yorkers everywhere.

I find this privatization of media and disregard for cutting edge journalists very alarming and dystopian. Furthermore it’s hard to give Mr. Ricketts the benefit of the doubt knowing that he is a conservative who supported Trump. The act of deleting the archives immediately seems like a real jab, like downright evil.

Our reading talks about the press as an institution, a “reference to the whole complex of publication and circulation of ideas throughout society, without which democracy cannot work.” (McQuail, 16)

This seems chilling considering these three news outlets were edgy and liberal, representing a really liberal city, and put to an end by corporate greed.

-Chelsea Kane

 

References:

Leland, John and Newman, Andy. “DNAinfo and Gothamist Are Shut Down After Vote to Unionize”. The New York Times. NOV. 2, 2017. Online. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/02/nyregion/dnainfo-gothamist-shutting-down.html?smid=tw-share

McQuail, Denis. “What is Journalism? How is itLinked to Society?” Journalism and Society. London: Sage, 2005. 1-26. Print.

Is all news journalism?

By Anne Myrthe Korvinus

As starting journalists, we must be aware that everything we are going to write or produce will be a contribution to society. Since, all that’s published will be on the web forever and can be traced back to you.

McQuail writes the following about the link between journalism and society:

In everyday terms, journalism refers to the activities and outcomes of those professionally engaged in collecting, analysing and publishing ‘news’. In turn, news can be defined as factual accounts and explanations of current or recent events of wider relevance to a given public, usually characterised by their geographical location (city, region, nation, etc.). But not all journalism is news.

I want to make a critical note here. Not all journalism is news? What does this refer to? Is a story about an art event news or not? Is it relevant to a wide public? I’m not sure.

And, what if we turn the question around: is all news journalism? News sites like NU.nl or the news section of AD try to keep you up-to-date with current events. Those events might interest a wide range of people in the Netherlands. But, can those messages be considered journalism? Sometimes those posts are reproductions of a press release and therefore I wonder, how is that a professionally engaged way of collecting and analyzing news? Following that reasoning, it might not be journalism according to McQuail but I have doubts. It can still be news, right? I think we must not limit ourselves by formulating definitions of journalism or news, since I feel like those definitions are constructed in society and are fluid over time.

References

  • McQuail, Denis. “What is Journalism? How is it Linked to Society?” Journalism and Society. London: Sage, 2005. 1-26.
  • https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2017/11/20/pan-is-soms-net-een-miljonairsbeurs-14124316-a1581865

Is it useful to study journalists?  

Is it? Because I honestly don’t know anymore.

Journalists study the world and try to present a comprehensible account of it to their viewers and/or readers. Scholars study journalists, and I’m not sure if I understand their purpose. They don’t seem to have this watchdog-like vigilant aspirations journalist have. In my eyes, most academic work on journalists seems a bit platonic. Authors study various types of journalists and journalism, and try to abstract some sort of essence from their findings.

We, starting journalists, sometimes do the same thing. Whenever we have a discussion, either on a friendly basis or during a JPS-lecture (okay, mainly during JPS-lectures) we look at something like Geenstijl or Zondag met Lubach or Ismail Ilgün and ask ourselves: is this journalism? How ‘journalism’ is this? In the same way a platonic would ask about a horse in how far it represents the true ideal of a horse, as it only exists in the transcendental world of ideas.

Not being a platonic myself, I notice myself finding it harder and harder to reflect upon my future profession in university. During my philosophy bachelor studies, I sometimes found myself irritated by the amount of academic uselessness found in endless discussions on ‘whether or not we can be sure the world exists’. Starting my masters, I really looked forward to what would be our only academic course to keep the scale even, and to keep reflecting on journalism on a more scholarly level, apart from our practical exercises. Now, nearly three months later, I find myself wondering what’s the point of analysing seems already self-evident to us: what journalism is.

Am I slowly attaining the ‘hbo-mindset’? Or am I simply bored to death after three years of academic discussion, while discovering that journalistic research and writing seems more exciting and likely to have an actual effect on society than academic research does?

Excuse me for this arrogant attitude towards scholars – I’m exaggerating a bit to sketch and better understand my own conflicted mind. And excuse my not so literary-driven blogpost (while at the same time having written a literary-driven blogpost would have quite defeated the purpose and the nature of my doubts). I think I’m just mainly wondering about two things and wanted to ask you how you feel about them.

1. Do you, being a former student of journalism, sometimes get this fuzzy feeling just as well? Or do you feel else / the contrary?

2. Is it even useful to study journalists, and why?

Maarten van Gestel

Literature: 

McQuail, Denis. “What is Journalism? How is it Linked to Society?” Journalism and Society. London: Sage, 2005. 1-26. Print.

Schudson, Michael & Andersen, Chris. “Objectivity, Professionalism, and Truth Seeking in Journalism”, in K. Wahl-Jorgensen & T. Hanitzsch (ed.), The Handbook of Journalism Studies. New York: Routledge, 2009. 88-101. Print.

A journalist or an academic?

“Journalism education has ended up as neither fish nor fowl; it feels itself unloved by the industry and tolerated, barely, by the academy”. This quote from the article ‘What is journalism? Professional identity and ideology of journalists reconsidered’ by Deuze (2005) strikes an interesting resemblance with the state of mind of most students of the master’s programme of Journalism of the University of Amsterdam.

Usually, when studying for a master’s degree, you’re trained as an academic. What are you trained for when you do a master’s degree in journalism?

This is what the website of the study programme states: ‘Scholarly journalists are capable of quickly analysing complex problems, and translate these problems in a journalistic product that is accessible for a broad public’. That sounds like a pretty practical education goal to me.

More than two hundred students try to make it to the selective master’s program. Why? Because if you want to be a journalist, this is the way to go. This is how you get a internship at a big newspaper like NRC. If you don’t have a university degree, you don’t have to try.

When you talk to older journalists, many of them started in a different way. A lot of them don’t even have a bachelor degree. They started out as a journalist-in-training, when they were 18 or 19 years old, at the local newspaper, and worked their way in the industry.

There is a lot of focus on diversity in newsrooms (and there should be). But most of these discussions are about ethnic or cultural diversity. Is it not a problem that the diversity in education level is decreasing?

Bibliography

Deuze, M. (2005). What is journalism? Professional identity and ideology of journalists reconsidered. Journalism, DOI: 10.1177/146883859392002

Journalism with/vs/for society: what is our mission?

MacQuail (2005) describes the relation between society and journalism. This is a subject Katherine Viner, editor-in-chief at the Guardian, also touches upon in her essay ‘A mission for journalism in a time of crisis’. In it, she chronicles the history of the Guardian and shines a light on the changing nature of society and with that of the newspaper itself.

In 1821 John Edward Taylor started a newspaper, the Manchester Guardian, which was devoted to enlightenment issues, as well as reform, justice and liberty. Viner explains that the ideals upon which the newspaper was built, like educating people, engaging people in politics and doing so for people from all classes and ages, still form the backbone of what the newspaper sets out today.

Both MacQuail (2005) and Viner address the issue of journalists becoming too far removed from the society. By losing touch with everyday lives distrust against journalists can grow, something that is becoming increasingly clear in this day and age.

Viner advocates a journalism that is in touch with the people, that is not snobbish, that speaks to people’s imagination, that provides them with facts in an ever more chaotic world. And with that, she describes exactly what I could see myself doing as a journalist. Hers is a journalistic mission I would gladly be a part of.

Literature

McQuail, Denis. “What is Journalism? How is it Linked to Society?” Journalism and Society. London: Sage, 2005. 1-26. Print.

The contradiction of professional journalism

Schudson and Anderson are careful to make any claims about professional journalism. They conclude: ‘Any empirical investigation into the status of journalism should be sensitive to the importance of journalistic expertise (in the form of objectivitity claims and in other forms) along with the contradictory nature of that claim; simultaneously, any analysis of journalism should keep in mind the complex and, once again contradictory nature of claims to be “inside” and “outside” an occupational system of power.’ (99)

Professional journalism in itself is contradictory. On one hand, journalists impose ethics, norms and goals on themselves. The Dutch media even have their own institution to check if the rules of ‘good’ journalism are being followed: the Council of Journalism (Raad van Journalistiek), even though this council cannot impose any legal sanctions. On the other hand, everybody can call themselves journalists. Also, alternative media are difficult to fit in Bourdieu’s conceptual frame, Schudson and Anderson point out (98).

The boundaries of what is ‘journalism’ are flexible. How would you conceptualize blogging in relation to journalism, Schudson and Anderson ask (98). Also journalists who clearly fit in the conceptual frame of journalism, play with these boundaries, like the popular FormatieVlog, made by parliamentary journalists from the NOS. By placing journalistic practices outside the ‘normal’ journalistic boundaries, they could permit to ask different kind of questions and they got different responses from the politicians.

These fluid journalistic boundaries only show how difficult it is to talk about “professional journalism”.

Sources

Schudson, Michael & Andersen, Chris. “Objectivity, Professionalism, and Truth Seeking in Journalism”, in K. Wahl-Jorgensen & T. Hanitzsch (ed.), The Handbook of Journalism Studies. New York: Routledge, 2009. 88-101.

How journalistic are fashion journalists?

‘What makes a journalist, a journalist?’ is one of the frequently asked questions in our work field. Legally, there’s not much rule to the name and no strict protection of the name. Everybody could call themselves a journalist and ‘get away with it’.

This is also the case in the “feminine” section of magazines, internationally and nationally. Glamour and Vogue, for example, prefer to hire experienced journalists who have a sharp pen and their own original, niche-like style and ideas. But is it justly to call yourself a journalist, as a fashion writer?

Let’s check it on the basis of the criteria, given by Deuze. In his text he sums up five ideal-typical traits or values of the journalistic practice (447).

1 – Public service: journalists provide a public service (as watchdogs or ‘news-hounds’, active collectors and disseminators of information.

Public service is of course a broad concept. Fashion journalists aren’t watchdogs, but they are selecting the information and visuals very carefully. Traditionally, they’re also very dependent on news and new happenings, trends et cetera.

2 – Objectivity: journalists are impartial, neutral, objective, fair and (thus) credible.

This is not applicable to fashion journalists. Fashion magazines are commercial and depend on ad revenue. The news they bring and the clothes they use in visual productions are for the biggest part PR. The productions are therefore mostly positive. They encourage you to consume, they have a certain goal.

3 – Autonomy: journalists must be autonomous, free and independent in their work.

This is not the case for fashion journalists. They are dependent and cannot be critical or autonomous. Fashion journalists cannot render impartial judgment.

4 – Immediacy: journalists have a sense of immediacy, actuality and speed (inherent in the concept of ‘news’).

Fashion journalists absolutely have speed, they very much like ‘live’ textual and visual productions. But with social debates in the public sphere, about diversity for example, they are often far behind.

5 – Ethics: journalists have a sense of ethics, validity and legitimacy.

You could discuss that fashion journalists are very ethical, because they maintain their relations very well. At the other hand, there are quite some women’s magazines wherein celebrity news and private subjects are the unique selling point.

The conclusion is that the term ‘fashion journalists’, that’s used by the magazines, is not fully legit. For readers, this is confusing, because it’s not always clear that an article is written out of goodwill for the PR. So how to bring journalism to these readers?…

by Aybala Carlak (I know I have more words than required, but what can I do :))

Deuze, Mark. “What is Journalism? Professional Identity and Ideology of Journalists Reconsidered.” Journalism, 6.4 (2005): 443-465. Print.

A Journalist’s Dream

McQuail in his text develops the idea that journalism is a field made for the society, it is here the serve it, to inform it, to be true to it. This is the essence of journalism, and its first client, since it was born, is the people. This does look like a beautiful ideal, a world where the press could be free from everything, and simply inform us and entertain us. The freedom of speech is then necessary to achieve this goal, however, McQuail demonstrates that there is a strong duality in journalism: the ideals tend to be strongly opposed to the reality of the field. Money in power take a lot of room in the newsroom, and the freedom of journalists can easily be questioned. information disappears behind that some time. Here is an example. On the main public French channel, some months ago, a journalist interviewed a candidate for the presidential elections. Everybody knew that this candidate was not supported by the actual government who was then kind of directing the TV channel. However, the journalist, willing to do his job correctly, interviewed the candidate in order to inform us on his political program, not in order to demonstrate that he was not the one we should vote for. This presenter, few days after the interview, was downgraded to the midday news. Here it is not even about the freedom of speech, it is just about being a journalist working for the audience. Yet is it possible? The impressive list of questions asked by McQuail in his conclusion makes me tend to think that freedom of speech, ethic, and serving the society, is more a dream than a reality in journalism.

 

Aurore De Granier De Cassagnac

Source:

McQuail, Denis. “What is Journalism? How is it Linked to Society?” Journalism and Society. London: Sage, 2005. 1-26.

 

France 2 TV Channel

 

The public space belongs to the public

McQuail seems to identify journalism as a constitutive factor to the public space in modern society (McQuail 2005, p.5). Although the author seems to attempt at defining the ways in which the media influences the public, he does not, however, provide a positive definition of the term ‘public space’, nor does McQuail explicate how journalism constitutes the public space in any way (p.20-21).

I find this statement, neither backed by empirical evidence nor by a conceptual framework of any kind, highly dubious. Moreover, we can grasp the magnitude of McQuail’s error when we turn to scholars who have put great effort into conceptualizing the public sphere. For example, Hannah Arendt. She envisions a public space where subjects debate and argue about their differing opinions. Through dialogue, the public will find common ground in the fact that what separates us, brings us together at the same time.

In this picture painted by Arendt, inspired by the Ancient Greek agora, there is no place for the journalist in a defining or constitutive sense. The public sphere would need a competent moderator at most, but the journalist does not have any specific function in the public sphere at all.

While Arendt’s ideas are hard to implement on a mass society-wide scale, we could find examples of (digital) ‘tables’ on a smaller scale (by ‘tables’ I’m referring to the metaphor used in the article). For example, Facebook is improving their services to cater to groups that provide conditions for impartial dialogues in a constructive environment.

While Arendt would applaud these developments, other thinkers like Habermas have a different opinion on the matter. This only shows the complexity of the debates surrounding concepts like the public space. Therefore we should never jump to conclusions and aim to suspend our judgments at all times.

By Victor Berndsen

Word count: 300

Literature:

McQuail, Denis. “What is Journalism? How is it Linked to Society?” Journalism and Society. London: Sage, 2005. 1-26. Print.