Silvia Loewe Durall. Professor of International Degree in Journalism at the Universitat Abat Oliba CEU
"We live the best time for journalism and the worst for the media". This paradoxical statement, now so often repeated that it no longer even has a recognized author, is a good introduction to the current crossroads that the information business is at. But if we look at the first part of the claim, the reasons for this optimism may give us some clues to better understand the second part, with worrying consequences, and try to outline new scenarios involving a greater balance between the two realities.
Journalism has always been necessary throughout history, certainly, but the difference is that in past centuries only a minority knew it, and now most of us already know. The breadth of choice of channels has brought new forms and new audiences. The facts are transformed into infinite narrative possibilities, as for example in the power of an image in which dozens of people are fleeing the Bataclán place during the attacks in Paris, or the scoop tweet announcing Hillary Clinton's candidacy for US presidency.
Precisely because reality is transmitted to people in many ways and at every moment, the elements defining journalism are indispensable to give a social meaning to everything around us and to encourage judgment and decisiveness; the raw information needed research, verification, explanation, context and interpretation. In journalism it is not the individual, but the collective, which affects us all, society as a whole, and seeks the common good.
This is where a rigorous profession is recognised, trained with knowledge and principles, in addition to technologies, and focused on the concept of public service, even if it works for private companies. Therefore we know that we cannot do without professional journalists, as their work is obligatory to give the information value. But the question is how. And also how much, because, since this effort must be economically quantifiable, just as the goods produced in a competitive and regulated market are.
Writing generates greater value
One of the forms of journalistic account that generates greater value is writing, because it has implicit in it compulsory aspects associated with a quality consumption for audiences, such as calmness, concentration, reflection or durability. The words are the foundation of the collective intellect, and a newspaper article contributes to building the public imagination differently than does the audiovisual. In comparative terms, a diet of metaphors is very effective: the information can be compulsive consumption and indigestible or voluntary, peaceful and more nutritious.