It wasn't bad enough that revenues had tanked and readers had fled, he said. The worst part was that news media had lost their credibility. Being the optimist that he is, he believes that credibility can be recovered by a return to the ethical principles of high-quality journalism.
The importance of ethics to the future of journalism has lately become a theme developed by many, including the French journalist Jean-François Fogel.
Diaz Nosty is head of the journalism department at the University of Malaga in Spain, and his book has the title (translated) The Press in the New Information Ecosystem: 'Stop the Presses!' (La prensa en el nuevo ecosistema informativo "Que paren las rotativas" it's available free in PDF from the publisher, Fundacion Telefonica). I heard him talk at Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico as part of a press tour of Latin America promoting the book.
Toward a more ethical journalism
|Bernardo Díaz Nosty. Photo by Rocío Hirschfeld.|
No surprise, sensationalism sells, which presents problems for media outlets whose brands are synonymous with high quality and credibility. All the media suffer by being painted with the same brush.
Now the public has the power to make its own judgments on issues and how the press is covering them. The public can be a critical and corrective force on the news media, he says. Ordinary citizens can contribute to the news with photos, videos, and firsthand reports -- in real time.
Diaz Nosty sees social media as helping set the public agenda for the first time rather than leaving it to the politicians and the press. In this sense, the people are pushing the press to report on social problems from a bottom-up perspective -- more ethical, in his view.
Both of these forces are pushing journalists to distinguish themselves from all the other voices on the Internet by practicing their "civic calling" of producing news that is more accurate (rather than faster) and unbiased (independent of special interests).
A more relevant press
In the future, new digital media organizations with a handful of journalists will be able to focus on journalism that is more relevant to the public by interacting with them, listening to them, and writing about their concerns, he says. There is no better example of this impact of new digital tools on the media and on society than the Arab spring.
A graphic presented in the book predicts when print news media will come to an end in dozens of countries -- 2017 for the U.S., for example, and 2024 for Spain.
Diaz Nosty closes with a poetic lament for the passing: "the nightly chorus of thousands of machines, announcing today what happened yesterday, will continue fading away."
Photo by Rocío Hirschfeld, licensed under Creative Commons.
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