邁向廣闊的天地

by Lise on Thursday, 26 July 2007 Comments
There used to be an aura about journalism: typewriter, cigarettes, sandwiches and Watergate-like investigations were all part of it. Not much of it is still alive. Typewriters are definitely out. Smoking is not cool anymore, and eating sandwiches is bad for your health. As to investigations, they are now supposed to be conducted online by determined bloggers who make use of their collective intelligence and power for bringing culprits to virtual scaffolds. In a Web 2.0 world, no space is left for lonely cowboys and journalists. Anyway, who now bothers to read newspapers?

And yet, we do need journalists. We need them even more now that information is circulating in such a way as to make it less traceable than was the case before, less relevant and more dubious than at any time in modern history. Internet info-mediators are certainly a precious resource for enlarging our access to the world, but professional journalism compensates for the amateurish outlook of the information age. Journalism might be less glamorous than in the past; still, the profession remains indispensable in a truly democratic society.

What kind of journalists do we need? Some key words will never change: humility, integrity and decency remain core values. Professionalism is not an empty word either. In this trade, it refers to a capacity to analyze a source, to quote it in a correct way, to confront and link together various items of information, and to detect contradictions in the accounts of a case. It also means that the journalist must somehow specialize in a field of expertise: science is a tricky field, but we need cold-blooded, rigorous journalists for helping us to critically evaluate the nature of a scientific discovery; economics and business might be tedious, but we need sharp-tongued journalists who will go beyond the optimistic statements of entrepreneurs and central bankers; war reporting is certainly a dangerous exercise but who else will report on war crimes and hopes for reconciliation than a fearless reporter? Professionalism also means the capacity to master a number of techniques and media that interconnect. A professional journalist goes from the Internet to the newspaper and is able to blur the frontier of written, audio and visual reportage in a way that his or her predecessors would never have dreamt of.

Last but not least, a journalist is an ‘interdisciplinary specialist.” In a world of divided languages, he specializes in bringing together different fields of expertise and shaping the language through which knowledge and analytical capacity remain a common social asset. In that respect also journalism is indispensable to the democratic fabric. The glamour might have faded, but the challenge is greater than ever!

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