What is the future of journalism?

First Blog Post:

CMN5165 – New Directions in Journalism

In today’s technological and economical world, rapid changes seem to be the norm. As individual, we are compelled to adapt to those changes, in such extend that our everyday life becomes almost mechanical. Nowadays, instead of calling someone, we send textos (one of the new words brought by new technology, such as the new verb ”google” that stand for search). We find it easier to read on our iPad instead of opening a book. We became pro in sending emails, shopping online, and reaching relatives or friends via Skype Facebook. Accordingly, those changes have also affected the workplace. Today, many teachers have specialized in distance learning, a whole new concept where students and teachers never meet in person, but can exchange thanks to new technology. Workers can participate in abroad meetings and conferences using videoconference technology, a trend that has created a new type of distance job or from home workers.

From this perspective, the field of journalism has been affected according to the changes in the general labour market. Such changes have made scholars and professionals in journalism aware of a sudden decline in their profession, which refers to the lost of hegemony of traditional media, to diversity of platforms, and consumers new habits. Over time, this decline has resulted in a substantial loss of employment. Of course, many questions have been raised; among them, is there a future for journalism? This concern has been echoed in several scholars’ work. For example, James Curran broadly discussed this subject in his article ‘’The Future of Journalism’’, in which he visited a belief of crisis, renaissance, and reform in the field. Like other authors, he presented the negative view of those who advocate that the changes brought by new technology and new economy have undermined journalistic works. He also presented the point of those who foresee the advent of a new form of journalism or those who think these changes bring rooms for improvement in journalism. In the same veins, other scholars have pointed out that this weakening of the field is a direct result of a lack of interest from journalists to their field.

The multiple works regarding a journalistic downturn have somehow explored and re-explored the reasons and consequences of this weakening industry. For some authors, this is the result of a lack of professionalism. They advocate that nowadays Journalistic work are more focus on reaching sale’s goals than in quality of work, such as checking their sources and make relevant and appropriate comments about news reported. They are all driven by a competitive market. The mantra is who will launch the news first, regardless of true journalistic research. However, as it was pointed out in Dr Henrik Örnebring’s work[i], The Two Professionalism of Journalism, things are never black or white. In this vein, Dr Örnebring presents the relationship between organizational and occupational professionalism in journalism rather like a negotiation than two mutual exclusive forms. In this regard, I agree with the author since journalists have tried to adapt to the new situation the workplace is called to evolve in, as a direct consequence of new technology and new economical forms. As a matter of fact, managers in traditional media have introduced new forms of organization that require professionals to be more skilled and more computer literate. Of course, journalists have to compromise. Those changes have also brought consequent loss of employments. And again, the less fortunate journalists have to compromise and turn themselves to new journalistic positions, such as freelancers or bloggers. Furthermore, most of nowadays consumers are easier to reach online. Thus, all major publishers, such as New York Times, The Globe and Mail, Ottawa Citizen, ‘’Le Monde’’, have their online production; every broadcast business has its own website, Facebook page, Twitter account, online application for mobile devices, and so on. Key words in the industry of journalism now remain negotiation, adaptation. Suffice to say there is a future for journalism, and the future of journalism is secured.

As a matter of fact, the future of journalism rely on the capacity of leaders in the industry to innovate, to always find new methods to answer to new technology and financial issues. It has been demonstrated that industry leaders have promoted new work reorganizations, brought new software, and even made cut when necessary in order for their company to survive. On the other hand, governments, such as the Congress in the US, were also committed in the creation of rules and regulations to protect the more vulnerable media from unregulated competition. This future also relies on employees’ ability to adapt, negotiate and sometimes compromise for the sake of the industry and their own career. It is of notorious knowledge that traditional journalists have evolved to freelancers, bloggers, and have mastered new skills in order to be able use digital platforms.

At this point, the discussion should rather concentrate on topics, such as ethics, freedom of speech, ability to cope with citizen journalism, or the redundancy of information. Should a journalist in this new industry be specialized? Can media convergence be a solution? As for me, these questions deserve careful thought from professionals and scholars in the field. Since it has been proven that journalism was able to survive and even to innovate in this new technological and economical world, it is clear that the next step is to find new ways of adaptation. Not only schools have to provide students with academic understanding of journalistic literature, but it is also their duty to train students in the latest technology. In this new future, college and professional associations have to integrate new technology in their study curriculum, and help students and professionals find a right balance between work ethics and work production, between managers rules and their own professional code of ethics.

This new future of journalism also leaves room for improvement regarding association unions. This is maybe the right time for a protective movement that can establish regulations in the field and make sure they are fully respected. This is maybe time for a solid organization that can stand on behalf of journalists who wish to do their job properly and rightly, to make time to check their sources instead of running after sensation and working around the clock in order to please their boss, to progress in their career or just not to lose their job.

Katia Ulysse-Saint Vil

[i] Örnebring, Henrik. (2009). “The Two Professionalisms of Journalism: Journalism and the changing context of work” Working Paper. (web) Available from: https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/fileadmin/documents/Publications/The_Two_Professionalisms_of_Journalism_Working_Paper.pdf


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