Journalism under fire: Challenges of your time

Background

Traditionally, the news media has been the key generator of journalism for societies. But developments of the last decade are changing this picture. Technological, economic and political transformations are inexorably reshaping the communications landscape. Major recent elections and referenda have raised many questions about the quality, impact and credibility of journalism, with global significance.

In one view, traditional media is losing its control over the definition of news and its central position as the main source of news for audiences. In another view that welcomes a broadening of media pluralism through the advent of social media, and sees this as an alternative to mainstream journalism that too often falls short of professional standards. However, another perspective regrets the potential that social media provides for audiences to live in closed information cocoons as well as an apparent inability to distinguish truth from fabrications.  A further debate is the extent to which content on social media platforms should be edited by the platforms, in order to avoid the circulation of “fake news”, or whether this would open the door to potential censorship and controversy over who judges veracity and how.

Finding ways through these issues is of great importance not only for media professionals, but also for societies in general, and governments in particular, since modern societies cannot function and develop without free, independent and professional journalism, based on principles such as fact checking, reflecting a plurality of informed opinions, protecting the confidentiality of media sources, and ensuring journalists’ safety.