Monday, October 25, 2021
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In defence of the press and journalism in the digital age

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María Jesús Casals Carro. Professor of Journalism at the Faculty of Information Sciences at the Complutense University of Madrid

We are in the prehistory of this new digital era. It is no good making prophecies about the permanence of the written press. Everything is written for different media. Perhaps paper support resists. Maybe not. But what matters, I think, is journalism, that journalism still exists.

First, we do know, and those of us who are dedicated to university teaching can attest to it, that young people do not read the daily paper, the so-call written press. However, it cannot be said that they are not informed. They have other habits of reading and information provision. And follow their own interests, both informative and cultural, so they look for and find that which satisfies their curiosity and eagerness to learn on the Internet. Arguably they build their own informational, cultural and entertainment universe using all the tools that the network currently provides: social networks, blogs, digital media, interest groups, and so on.

Secondly we find that the traditional press has had to reconfigure their electronic versions. This adaptation has forced the immediacy of the content, so the information process has undergone drastic changes affecting the organization of the writing and the work of journalists. It has also forced the press to reinvent itself with more informative and more specialized content and expanding the so-called news agendas. Therefore, this adaptation to digital metamedio has not consisted, as in the beginning, in simply an electronic dump of the contents of the paper, but rather has forced compulsory organizational changes. These changes are not negative at all, on the contrary, allow detailed treatment of topics and access to more specialized and informative content of diverse knowledge.

Borders have become dissipated

One effect of this reality is the end of mass communication as had been born from when the press opened up a new world to the mid-nineteenth century. The audience is now massive, but not in the traditional sense of passive recipients dependent on a certain publishers. There is now a broader, more targeted audience, which can interact in other languages because the information borders have dissipated, an audience that has ceased to be faithful to a single newspaper.

Pierre Lévi, Tunisian historian, philosopher and sociologist, also a member of the Academy of Sciences and director of the Canada Research Chair in Collective Intelligence at the University of Ottawa, is recognized worldwide as a "philosopher of cyberspace". In their renowned book Cyberculture. The culture of the Digital Society (2007), he puts Internet in the centre of a unique and unprecedented cultural transformation: it speaks of a mutation. Pierre Lévy defines three key principles: interconnectivity, virtual communities and collective intelligence. These principles or characteristics cause a new system of knowledge and individual and collective experience to reach cyberculture, which corresponds to a specific stage of globalisation of societies and coexistence between local and global levels.

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